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PRESS RELEASE: CARB-X Awards $1.8 Million to Visby Medical for Development of Rapid Gonorrhea Diagnostic

The Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) has awarded Visby Medical up to US$1.8 million. The funding is aimed at the development of a portable rapid PCR diagnostic for the detection of gonorrhea and its susceptibility to ciprofloxacin. This funding will not only advance diagnostic practices, but also aims to ensure the preservation of ceftriaxone, currently the only effective antibiotic against gonorrhea.

Addressing Antibiotic Resistance and Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is the second most reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI), and its potential to develop resistance to antibiotics poses a significant global health threat. In 2020 alone, approximately 82 million people globally reported gonorrhea infections, with an increasing number of these infections showing resistance to commonly used antibiotics. In the face of this rising threat, the funding from CARB-X becomes even more crucial.

Development of Rapid Diagnostics

Visby Medical’s project involves the creation of a portable PCR platform that can rapidly detect the presence of the pathogen causing gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) and determine its susceptibility to ciprofloxacin. The test can be performed using urine samples, simplifying the testing process and making it more accessible. Moreover, Visby Medical also plans to use the funding to develop tests for other STIs in men, such as chlamydia and trichomonas.

Visby Medical’s PCR Platform

The portable PCR platform developed by Visby Medical is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, making it highly deployable in low-resourced and hard-to-reach settings. This platform has the potential to redefine best practices for patient care, infection control, and antibiotic stewardship. The aim is to enable physicians to confidently treat gonorrhea patients while reserving the only antibiotic remaining effective against resistant strains.

Role of CARB-X

CARB-X has a focus on preventing, diagnosing, and treating bacterial infections, including those resistant to antibiotics. Since its establishment in 2016, CARB-X has supported 95 research and development projects in 13 countries. The organisation launched new funding rounds in 2022, targeting critical gaps in the antibacterial pipeline, including oral therapeutics, vaccines, and rapid diagnostics for gonorrhea. This award to Visby Medical is the first diagnostic to receive funding from CARB-X’s 2022-23 funding call.

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