An Israeli startup that has developed a platform to differentiate between viral and bacterial infections in 15 minutes just got a big boost toward bringing the product to market. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has given Haifa-based MeMed a $4 million grant to fund its manufacturing efforts.
MeMed’s technology measures three blood-borne immune markers to detect whether a patient has a bacterial or viral infection. Its first generation product, ImmunoXpert, has been cleared for use in laboratories in the EU, Switzerland, and Israel. The platform under development, ImmunoPoC, is designed for point-of-care use to help clinicians decide whether or not to treat an infection with antibiotics. It does not have FDA approval.
Antibiotic overuse has driven the emergence of multi-drug resistant bacteria with significant health and economic consequences. Approximately 2 million infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria occur in the United States each year, resulting in 23,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Medication-resistant infections can also lead to more serious illness, longer recovery, more frequent or longer hospitalization and more expensive treatments.
Researchers around the world have been working on faster, more accurate tests to help clinicians decide whether to prescribe or avoid antibiotics. MeMed’s technology has been tested on thousands of patients, including the double-blind PATHFINDER study of 361 children published in September 2017 in Pediatrics. PATHFINDER concluded that MeMed’s assay had high performance in febrile children, and was “significantly more accurate than (C-reactive protein), procalcitonin, and routine laboratory parameters.”
The $4 million grant from DoD’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs will also be used to develop cloud connectivity to maintain the data that ImmunoPoC generates, said Eran Eden, PhD, co-founder and CEO of MeMed. It represents MeMed’s second round of U.S. government funding. DoD’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency awarded the company a $9.2 million contract in 2017 to support the final stages of prototype development.
Founded in 2009, the company has 38 employees and about 40 subcontractors around the globe. It wants to work with OEMs to scale manufacturing and is working with “very strong partners” in Europe and the United States, Eden said.
MeMed worked for a long time to develop its relationship with the DoD, according to Tanya Gottlieb, PhD, the company’s vice president of scientific affairs.
“It will hopefully open the way for additional deals for these governments becoming customers for MeMed in the future,” she said. “The most important thing: This is one step along the way for our product reaching as many patients as possible as quickly as possible.”
MeMed’s team has been working on these products for 10 years, and it hasn’t been easy, it has been rewarding, added Eden.
“This is a great thing to try to work on every morning,” he said. “You have a feeling you're working on something really big, really meaningful. If we can be part of the solution to this problem, we’ll be very glad about it.”