A FIRM based near Banbury has scooped a Longitude Prize Discovery award for developing a test for superbugs.

GFC Diagnostics’ MicroScreen detects antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, in 30 minutes compared to existing tests which take three days.

The new method is also cheaper, as it does not need expensive equipment or highly trained staff.

Chief executive Bruce Savage explained: “This could be a major step forward to reduce the harm caused by drug-resistant bacteria.

“This rapid test will give a quick diagnosis and prevent the unnecessary use of broad spectrum antibiotics.

“It will reduce healthcare costs by helping to stop the spread of deadly infections throughout a hospital.”

The technology can also detect deadly strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The awards were announced at The Royal Society in London on Monday.

GFC Diagnostics will receive a £25,000 grant to further develop its idea before entering the main Longitude Prize challenge, which offers a £10m prize.

Mr Savage added: “The grant will help our work to detect the so called nightmare-bug CPE which is resistant to nearly all known antibiotics, is often fatal and spreading fast across the world.”

GFC Diagnostics was set up nine years ago at the Cherwell Innovation Centre to develop a saliva and urine SmokeScreen tests, which detects if someone is a smoker.

The firm moved to Chipping Warden a year ago.

It is one of three Longitude Prize Discovery Award winners, chosen from more than 70 teams of inventors.