Molecular diagnostics company Inflammatix has announced a $6 million cost sharing contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to further develop its HostDx tests. The contract could eventually be worth up $72 million based on Inflammatix achieving certain milestones.
“We are thrilled to receive this funding from BARDA, which will enable us to advance our HostDx Fever test into the clinic where it will help physicians quickly diagnose infections so they can get the right treatments to the right patients. This ability is key to combatting antibiotic resistance, which is one of the most pressing public health challenges of our time,” said Tim Sweeney, M.D., Ph.D., cofounder and CEO of Inflammatix, in a press release. “Through this public-private sector partnership, we will move precision medicine to the point of care, where it can have an immediate impact on patient outcomes.”
Antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance is a growing and urgent public health problem according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventiuon (CDC). In a report published November 13, the CDC estimates that as many as 2.8 million antibiotic resistant infections occur annually in the U.S. resulting in more than 35,000 deaths. In addition, 223,900 cases of Clostridioides difficile occurred in 2017 and at least 12,800 people died.
“Dedicated prevention and infection control efforts in the U.S. are working to reduce the number of infections and deaths caused by antibiotic-resistant germs, but the number of people facing antibiotic resistance is still too high. More action is needed to fully protect people,” the report stated.
“CDC is concerned about rising resistant infections in the community, which can put more people at risk, make spread more difficult to identify and contain, and threaten the progress made to protect patients in healthcare. The emergence and spread of new forms of resistance remains a concern.”
The initial work on the BARDA contract will focus on the development and commercialization of the HostDx Fever test, which runs on the company’s isothermal platform, using proprietary biomarkers and machine learning to deliver an answer within 30 minutes. The test requires only a fingerstick to collect a small blood sample, and according the company “reads” gene expression patterns within each patient’s immune system to differentiate bacterial from viral infections, which allows treating physicians to know whether to prescribe an antibiotic treatment.
The BARDA contract also contains an option to help further develop the company’s HostDx Sepsis and HostDx FeverFlu tests. HostDx Sepsis is a blood-based test that will rapidly diagnose infections in patients in emergency department or other hospital settings to identify patients with sepsis, while HostDx FeverFlu will use nasal swab samples and will combine traditional influenza testing with host-response biomarkers.