In pursuit of pathogens

CARB-X funds Pattern Bioscience to develop new rapid diagnostic for drug-resistant bacterial infections

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BOSTON and AUSTIN, Texas—CARB-X, a global non-profit partnership dedicated to accelerating early development antibacterial R&D, has announced that the partnership is awarding Austin, Texas-based Pattern Bioscience (formerly Klaris Diagnostics) a non-dilutive award of up to US $6.8 million to develop a rapid identification and antimicrobial susceptibility test (ID/AST) to diagnose drug resistant infections quickly. The test is also intended to provide health professionals with vital information about which pathogen is causing the infection, and which antibiotic is most likely to cure it. 
“Rapid diagnostics are urgently needed to improve the treatment of drug-resistant infections. They can provide vital information about the bacteria causing an infection and take the guess-work out of treatment decisions in the first critical hours of illness,” said Erin Duffy, chief of Research and Development at CARB-X, which is based at the Boston University School of Law. “Currently, it can take days of laboratory testing to diagnose a lethal bacterial infection. Faster ID/AST results like Pattern’s diagnostic, if successful and eventually approved for use in patients, would enable medical staff to treat infections quickly with appropriate antibiotics.”
The aim of the Pattern Bioscience diagnostic is to provide definitive test results within four hours from a simple test. Pattern’s technology reportedly combines single cell analysis with deep learning to deliver a fast and definitive diagnosis that can guide antibiotic treatment decisions.  Digital Culture technology enables phenotypic susceptibility testing across all common bacterial infections, thereby maximizing potential to improve antibiotic prescribing. Rapid ID/AST is said to be essential to improving the treatment of drug-resistant infections and saving lives — studies suggest that every hour of delay before therapy increases the odds of sepsis and death.
“We can’t imagine a better partner than CARB-X to carry out our shared mission, and we’re honored by this recognition of our unique potential to transform antibiotic treatment decisions. This funding will allow our remarkable and growing team to advance development of Pattern’s life-saving technology,” added Nick Arab, co-founder and CEO of Pattern Bioscience. 
The award is designed to cover 80 to 90 percent of development costs, depending on the phase of development. If the project successfully achieves certain development milestones, Pattern will be eligible for up to an additional $15.1 million in funding from CARB-X. 
Pattern Bioscience also announced yesterday that the company had closed $6.4M in Series B funding led by Omnimed Capital, a Dallas-based healthcare focused venture capital firm. This, combined with the CARB-X funding, adds up to about $13 million for the development of its ID/AST platform.
“We’re pleased by the continued support of our lead investor, Omnimed Capital,” Arab noted in a press release. “This funding will allow our remarkable and growing team to advance development of Pattern’s life-saving technology.”
Pattern’s technology combines single cell analysis with deep learning artificial intelligence to recognize bacteria and to predict drug susceptibility. The system, which produces millions of measurements per run, will zoom in on real-time drug response and observe how individual bacterial cells respond to a possible therapy. 
CARB-X (Combatting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator) is a global non-profit partnership led by Boston University. Funding is provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the Department of Health and Human Services; the Wellcome Trust, a global charity based in the UK; Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF); the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF) from the UK Department of Health and Social Care; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and with in-kind support from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

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