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Device Would Let Clinicians Screen for Bacteria, Pick Best Antibiotic In An Hour

Lately we’ve seen a lot of rapid diagnostics for bacterial infections like MRSA, tuberculosis and streptococcus. This early-stage startup is doing it a little differently: it’s focusing less on identifying the bacteria and more on rapidly determining what antibiotic would best treat it.

DxUpClose Inc.’s CEO Cyndi Nickel said the company’s handheld device screens a fluid sample for specific pathogenic bacteria, but even if it can’t identify the bacteria that are present, it will count the bacteria and perform an antibiotic sensitivity test on them, all in an hour’s time.

The point-of-care diagnostic device contains samples of antibiotics, and electronic sensors within the device monitor the growth of bacteria from a sample under the influence of those antibiotics. The device then sends a list of recommended antibiotics to the healthcare worker’s email or smartphone.

“A lot of the bacterial tests out there use PCR, which is a technique of attaching DNA on to a probe,” Nickel said. “Ours is strictly based on the electronic sensor and the sensor’s ability to monitor the bacterial activity.”

Nickel said it’s the device’s ability to do this in 60 minutes that sets it apart from competing antibiotic sensitivity tests, like Vitak’s Advanced Expert System software, which require several hours of incubation. What also sets it apart is that is weighs less than one pound, runs on batteries and is designed to fit into a doctor or nurse’s coat pocket.

It’s designed to save time and dollars resulting from improperly prescribed antibiotics and returns to the doctor’s office. With $26 billion spent on antibiotics every year that seems like a good problem to be solving. But the problem of drug-resistant resistance has inspired some alternate approaches to treating bacterial infections (new therapeutic drugs, devices and vaccines) beyond today’s antibiotics that may come into play down the road. Would the device be able to address those?

DxUpClose is targeting a $825,000 in a Series A offering that will carry it through the rest of the development phase.

Nickel said the device’s initial application will be in treating urinary tract infections, and she anticipated that it would be ready for FDA submission in 18 months to two years. Its platform is based on technology developed at Texas A&M University and in partnership with Texas State University.

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