Module Innovations receives funding worth $702,000 from CARB-X

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on June 17, 2020

The funds will be used to develop tests to diagnose UTI and identify superbugs causing the infection within two hours

Pune-based Module Innovations received funding of up to $702,000 from Boston based CARB-X, plus up to $2.5 million more if certain project milestones are met, to develop a rapid diagnostic test for drug-resistant urinary tract infections (UTI).

The diagnostic would also provide vital information on which antibiotics would be most effective against the superbug, including common uropathogens such as Escherichia coli, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterococci faecalis that often cause infection.

The size of a small printer, Module’s ASTSENSe for rapid antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) of UTIs, would shave days off the time it takes to diagnose a UTI. A simple, non-invasive urine sample would be loaded into the ASTSENSe device, which would diagnose an infection and provide the antibiotic resistance profile of the pathogen(s) involved within two hours.

Effective treatment of UTI

Currently, diagnosing a UTI and providing AST results can take days and requires advanced microbiology laboratories and personnel. Patients are usually prescribed broad spectrum antibiotics while waiting for test results. This approach often does not work, particularly as infections are increasingly caused by drug-resistant pathogens. Inappropriate therapy can increase the risk of sepsis, kidney damage, and other health-complications related to serious UTIs. Inappropriate use of antibiotics can contribute to drug-resistance.

In such a scenario, affordable and rapid bacterial ID and AST technology could enable data-driven decision making and appropriate antibiotic use particularly in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), improving patient outcomes and antibiotic stewardship.

“UTIs are a severe problem affecting millions of people globally. Slow diagnostics are a major obstacle in the effective treatment of patients. This funding and expert support from CARB-X will help us develop the ASTSENSe technology and, if successful, save lives by speeding up the diagnosis and effective treatment of deadly UTI infections,” said Sachin Dubey, CEO and Co-Founder of Module Innovations.

The ASTSENSe test works in conjunction with the company’s USENSe bacterial identification test. The technology works by monitoring change in the size of Module’s proprietary nanoparticle complex that is mixed with the urine sample when running the test in the ASTSENSe cartridge. The size of these complexes is directly proportional to bacterial growth. The results are displayed on the ASTSENSe screen and can also be delivered to a clinician’s phone.

Rapid, accurate diagnostics

“Rapid diagnostics, like those accessible through Module’s technology, are urgently needed to help ensure that UTI patients in developed and developing countries receive effective treatment as quickly as possible,” said Erin Duffy, Chief of Research and Development at CARB-X, a global non-profit partnership led by Boston University and funded by governments and foundations focused on supporting the development of new products to address the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.

“This technology, if successful, could provide health professionals with fast, accurate and affordable AST information for UTIs, accelerating the delivery of effective therapeutics to patients, saving lives, and reducing the risk of contributing to drug resistance” said Duffy.

There are an estimated 150 million UTI cases globally each year. In the US, 13,000 deaths are attributed directly to UTIs each year, and the number is higher when patients develop bloodstream infections as a result of the UTI.

Published on June 17, 2020

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