Despite millions of people being affected by infectious diseases annually, there is little scientific interest in this field. Innatoss aims to fill the gap by contributing to the development of reliable and affordable diagnostics.
If there is not yet a good test for DIAGNOSIS of a certain disease, we will develop it ourselves
“Infectious diseases have a long course and are often difficult to diagnose. It’s not commercially viable for large companies in the diagnostic industry to develop good diagnostic techniques for minor outbreaks and individual cases. Only when there’s a major epidemic or pandemic, affordable diagnostics are developed,” according to Anja Garritsen, founder and CEO of Innatoss Laboratories.
Innatoss is an SME focusing on Lyme disease, Q fever and more recently on COVID-19. Anja believes it’s essential that more attention is paid to infectious diseases, and targeted diagnostics specifically.
The consequences of infection for individual patients can be life-changing. “Infectious diseases are often underestimated and there are a lot of them. Just step into your garden, and you’re at risk. The symptoms are often non-characteristic, unclear and similar to other health issues.”
Misdiagnoses and underreporting are common problems with infectious diseases. “For example, the first Q-fever patients with long term complaints were simply sent home. Extreme fatigue, exhaustion, headaches, shortness of breath were reported as psychosomatic problems. But Q fever is a really dangerous disease that can have serious long term consequences. Only when a number of patients with the similar symptoms visited the same GP it was attributed to more than a coincidence.” Garritsen hopes that as a result of the COVID pandemic, people will become far more alert to infectious diseases and family doctors recognise the symptoms faster so treatment can begin in time.
Innatoss has chosen to work on the infectious diseases that receive a lot of media attention, but where diagnosis and treatment are lagging behind. Garritsen said, “We see opportunities here to use immunological tests to improve diagnostics. We have been investing time and research into this since 2012. We are examining whether we can use existing tests for other diseases. For example, research into T cells to determine a specific infection. If there is not yet a good test for diagnosis of a certain disease, we will develop it ourselves.
“We don’t just develop those tests, we also perform the testing ourselves in our accredited laboratory. Therefore we can actively contribute to reducing the array of health problems associated with Lyme disease, COVID-19 and Q fever. These are often regarded as an occupational hazards but can be highly debilitating so it’s almost a social responsibility to combat them!” A perfect example of Innatoss’ working methodology is their collaboration with Water Authorities, green keepers and ecological organizations. Once a year they perform a test for Lyme disease for all employees at risk. “We all benefit. Previous undetected infections are detected which can be a huge help to individuals and organisations, while Innatoss has access to the research data, which helps us help society in general.”
Although Innatoss is a relatively small laboratory, it has big ambitions. Garritsen, who started her career in 1993 with a postdoc at Organon, took the big step in 2012 to start her own business at Pivot Park. From a one-woman company, Innatoss quickly grew into a company where a close-knit team of eleven professionals with extensive experience in the pharmaceutical and diagnostic industry works to increase Pandemic Preparedness.
Innatoss is a diagnostic laboratory specialising in infectious diseases such as Lyme disease, Q fever and since 2020, COVID-19. Innatoss is pushing the boundaries of diagnostics by making innovative use of existing tests. If no such tests exist then Innatoss will develop them. The laboratory regularly supports and assists leading organisations in addressing infectious diseases in the work place.