A start-up company has developed an electrochemical sensing technology that is able to detect bacterial cells in less than two minutes, which is useful for the diagnosis of bacterial infections at the point-of-care. By measuring and identifying the unique metabolites excreted by each bacteria cell, the patented technology offers an improved magnitude sensitivity of four orders compared to the slower and more cumbersome method of direct cell detection. The handheld electrochemical sensing device only requires a sample size of 7.5 μL of any biological fluid with zero sample preparation or incubation needed to be effective. This makes it an immediate and reliable method for accurate diagnosis with no need of a central lab for processing. The initial target is in the veterinary diagnostics markets and, in particular, for the diagnosis of ear infections. Tests for other infectious diseases are also being developed.
Standard bacteria test results are slow and require one to two days to obtain results back from the central lab. While emerging (PCR) technologies exist with a shorter time of an hour for results, they are expensive, have poor positive predictive accuracy and are not quantitative. This has resulted in an over-prescription of unnecessary and potentially harmful antibiotics in both humans and animals.
Compared to direct cell detection methods, the patented technology developed by this company detects the QSMs (Quorum Sensing Molecules) produced by a bacterial cell. A bacterial cell produces over 10,000 QSMs per hour, therefore providing a much higher magnitude of sensitivity of four orders for fast and accurate detection. Further, multiple biomarkers may be detected and quantified simultaneously in a single test.
The handheld device consists of an array of sensors and requires no further sample preparation or device calibration. Simply load the sample onto the device and results can be obtained in less than two minutes. The device is also not temperature sensitive, therefore making it highly adaptable to a wide range of applications.
Due to rising animal healthcare expenditure, driven by increasing demand for pet insurance and a rising awareness of zoonotic diseases, the Veterinary Diagnostics Market is expected to grow at CAGR of 8.6% to reach US$6.71 billion by 2021. Currently, US$35 billion is spent on pets for veterinary care, supplies, medicine and boarding/grooming in the USA alone.