Israeli biotechnology engineers have won part of a £10 million prize for developing rapid diagnostics for antimicrobial resistance.

The team at Technion and clinicians at the Bnai Zion Medical Centre won a Discovery Award this week for their work using ‘bio-chips’.

“By measuring how light reflects off the surface of these bio-chips, we can determine whether bacteria are growing or dying in the presence of certain antibiotics and specific antibiotic concentrations,” said Technion Ph.D. student Heidi Leonard.

The team will now be competing in the Longitude Prize, a £10 million five-year prize fund launched in 2014 with a challenge to develop a point-of-care test to detect and understand infections to help ensure the right antibiotics are used at the right time.

Now in its third year, it rewards those who develop a point-of-care diagnostic test that will conserve antibiotics for future generations.

Four million people get hospital-associated infections in Europe every year, so quickly understanding the right antibiotic for an infection is “critical for both a patient and to prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance”.

Experts have warned that antibiotics resistance could kill up to 10 million people a year by 2050, surpassing cancer to become the leading cause of death.