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Predigen scientist selected as a finalist in Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge

Predigen scientist receives $100K to further develop and test prototypes to differentiate between bacterial and viral infection


Predigen founder and chief scientific officer, Ephraim Tsalik, has been selected as a finalist in the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostic Challenge, a $20 million federal prize competition seeking innovative, rapid point-of-care laboratory diagnostic tests to combat the development and spread of drug resistant bacteria. The Challenge is a joint effort between the National Institutes of Health and the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in support of the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria. Specifically Dr. Tsalik received this award to further his work related to "Host Gene Expression to Classify Viral and Bacterial Infection Using Rapid Multiplex PCR". The five finalists, including Dr. Tsalik, will submit their device prototypes by Jan. 3, 2020, for testing by two CLIA-certified independent laboratories. From the group of finalists, up to three winners will share at least $19 million to continue their research. Final winners will be announced on July 31, 2020.


From the group of finalists, up to three winner will share at least $19 million to continue their research.

Inappropriately prescribed antibacterials for viral respiratory illness contribute to increased healthcare costs, unnecessary drug-related adverse effects, and drive antimicrobial resistance. The inability to rapidly and reliably distinguish bacterial from viral or non-infectious etiologies is a major impediment to appropriate antibiotic use. Pathogen detection strategies can be helpful but are limited by poor sensitivity, long time-to-result, inability to distinguish infection from colonization, or restricted number of target pathogens. Peptide biomarkers such as procalcitonin may also be helpful but are poorly sensitive and specific. Consequently, these approaches have not adequately addressed the antibacterial overuse problem. We therefore propose an innovative solution focusing on the patient’s response to infection. New scientific advances can now capture the entirety of the host response using system-wide molecular surveys (e.g., RNA, proteins, metabolites). Predigen scientists have developed analytical methods to define the stereotyped responses found within these highly complex and dense data. Applying these techniques to infection, they have shown the pattern of immune system response can distinguish bacterial, viral, and non-infectious etiologies. That response is most robustly detected in the patient’s gene expression profile, which is far more accurate than existing diagnostic tests.

This simple-to-use, 1-hour test distinguishes bacterial infection, viral infection, or neither so as to guide the appropriate administration of antibacterials at the point-of-need.

This strategy is only useful, however, if it can be measured rapidly, simply, and at the point-of-need. This team is moving this test forward. This simple-to-use, 1-hour test distinguishes bacterial infection, viral infection, or neither so as to guide the appropriate administration of antibacterials at the point-of-need.

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