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Microbio: New diagnostic tests to improve the identification of pathogens

Australian biotech company and Life Science Queensland (LSQ) member Microbio has been awarded a Federal Government Accelerating Commercialisation Grant to commercialise its InfectID-Blood Stream Infection (BSI) diagnostic assay — a real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) with the ability to rapidly identify 26 of the most common pathogens that cause bloodstream infections and sepsis.

Sepsis kills 11 million and affects more than 48.9 million people worldwide each year[1]. Microbio’s new test identifies the pathogen causing the infection in about two hours to enable patients to be treated with targeted antimicrobials in a timely manner — with the potential to save millions of lives and reduce the development of antimicrobial resistant pathogens.

The ground-breaking Infect-ID-BSI works without the need to culture blood, revolutionising the way in which bloodstream infection and sepsis patients can be treated globally.

The Accelerating Commercialisation Grant will allow Microbio to transition the diagnostic assay out of the laboratory and into the next stages of commercialisation, including completion of its quality management system implementation, commencement of clinical trials, and establishment of manufacturing.

Microbio Executive Director, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Paul Carboon, said the grant is a real ‘vote of confidence’ from the Federal Government’s commercialisation experts.

“We are honoured to receive this prestigious funding for InfectID-BSI, as we now have a clear pathway to continue our preclinical tests and expedite the product to market,” he said.

Microbio has conducted preclinical trials with two Queensland Health hospitals and is anticipating a full clinical trial to take place in 2021, with the intention of launching Infect-ID-BSI in market in 2022.

It is anticipated most labs around the globe, even those in developing countries, already have the equipment and skilled staff to take advantage of the Infect-ID-BSI assay — one of the many benefits of the new test as sepsis is known to take a higher toll on low- and middle-income countries.

LSQ Chief Executive Officer Clare Blain said the acquisition of the Accelerating Commercialisation Grant is a testament to Microbio’s highly experienced, Queensland-based team.

“Microbio is paving the way for emerging technologies in the molecular microbiology, genomics and bioinformatics space, and it’s very encouraging to see the team’s breakthrough with InfectID technology,” she said.

The technology is the foundation of the company’s SARS-CoV-2 test that detects the presence of replication-competent virus. It is suspected that this indicates not only if a patient has the virus, but whether they are infectious.

Microbio Executive Director, Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer and pioneer behind the InfectID technology, Dr. Flavia Huygens, said: “We know that one of the biggest limitations of current real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction based tests is that they can’t tell if the virus they’re picking up is replicating or simply inactive pieces of the virus that the body sheds as it fights the virus.”

“We believe this is why we have seen multiple reports of people continuing to test positive for viruses like SARS-CoV-2 weeks or even months after the initial diagnosis.”

Microbio’s InfectID-COVID-19-R test — developed earlier this year using its InfectID technology — has been independently validated to identify the presence of replication-competent SARS-CoV-2 virus in samples in only 45 minutes post RNA extraction, further exemplifying the diversified use of the technology across the health space.

Following the successful rollout of its InfectID technology in the sepsis and COVID-19 space, Microbio plans to expand its pathogen detection products to address other human infections and into other sectors, including Defence, Agriculture, Food, Environmental, and Veterinary testing.

[1] Rudd KE, Johnson SC, Agesa KM, Shackelford KA, Tsoi D, Kievlan DR, et al. Global, regional, and national sepsis incidence and mortality, 1990-2017: analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet (London, England). 2020;395(10219):200-11.

Case Study Parties

Paul Carboon Executive Director, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Flavia Huygens Executive Director, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer