Yissum had signed a licensing agreement with BioConnections for the commercialization of kits that enables immediate detection of all multidrug resistant (MDR) and of any extremely drug resistant (XDR) infections.
The kits are based on a novel method that was developed by Professor Emeritus Nathan Citri, from the Faculty of Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
It enables direct and precise recognition of bacterial resistance to all members of the family of beta-lactams, which is the most widely used group of antibiotics, including penicillins, cephalosporins and carbapenems.
Furthermore, the kits not only detect the presence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics, but also offer immediate information on the type of antibiotic that may still be of use.
Ken Denton, CEO of BioConnections, said, "We are very excited with this new partnership, and are convinced that Prof. Citri's invention will improve patient care, saving lives, shortening hospital stays and significantly reducing health care costs. The first kits are in the last stages of development, and we hope it will reach the market within months. In parallel, we have applied for a CE mark for marketing of the kits in Europe."
The novel identification kits are based on a chemical reaction that directly tests for the presence of the antibiotic destroying enzymes, called beta-lactamases, found in all multi-drug resistant bacteria.
The kits are modular, disposable arrays of spots impregnated with several types of antibiotics. The exact combination can be easily varied according to need.
Unprocessed samples of any specimen to be tested (such as blood or urine) are placed directly on the array spots, which are then covered by a lid containing a dark indicator dye.
If the sample contains bacteria that can destroy the antibiotic impregnated in a particular spot, the dark indicator dye facing that spot becomes lighter, exposing the antibiotic resistance within minutes.
The modular kits will thus alert doctors to the presence of an MDR or XDR bacterial infection, warn which antibiotics will be futile and indeed wrong to use and inform which, if any, still constitute a treatment option.
Thus, for the first time, evidence-based guidance for appropriate treatment can be made available without any delay. Furthermore, treatment efficacy can be easily assessed by real-time monitoring.
"We are pleased to collaborate with BioConnections for the commercialization of this invention," said Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum.
Michlin continued, "Drug-resistant gut bacteria present the most alarming, imminent threat to our ability to control infectious diseases. In order to contain its spread, a case of multi-drug resistance should be promptly isolated and treated with the one or two last-resort drugs that may still work. However, currently available techniques for identifying drug resistant bacteria are slow or hardly accessible, and evidence-based decisions are delayed for days. Professor Citri's invention now enables hospitals to identify drug resistant infections within minutes, so that the patient can immediately benefit from appropriate, evidence-based treatment while contagion and contamination are minimized. This is an extremely important step in our fight against antibiotic resistance, and one that will not only greatly improve patient care but will also save billions of dollars in health care expenses related to antibiotic resistant bacteria."