NEW YORK — SQI Diagnostics said on Monday that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Owlstone Medical to develop breath-based diagnostic biomarkers for Aspergillus lung infection and lung transplant rejection.
According to SQI, transplant patients are at an increased risk for fungal lung infections and are often not candidates for antifungal therapies due to immunosuppressant use, making early diagnosis of such infections critical.
SQI said that UK-based Owlstone is currently conducting independent clinical trials to validate breath-based volatile organic compounds to diagnose invasive aspergillosis and that the companies intend to jointly develop a regulatory strategy for tests based on these potential biomarkers.
Under the terms of the nonbinding MOU, the firms also expect to collaborate on breath-based biomarkers for the early detection of lung transplant rejection. They expect to work together to gain approval for a transplant rejection test and a breath collector device.
Toronto-based SQI said that Owlstone is expected to own any inventions resulting from the lung transplant rejection research and that it will offer SQI an exclusive, worldwide license to commercialize resulting biomarkers.
"With SQI's strategic interest in lung transplant biomarkers, we're excited to collaborate with Owlstone in applying the discovery, development, and commercialization of biomarkers of acute cellular rejection and perhaps chronic rejection," SQI CEO Andrew Morris said in a statement. "This MOU can help further establish SQI's leadership in commercializing diagnostic testing for healthcare professionals and patients as we extend SQI's diagnostics across the continuum of care for organ transplant patients."
In September, Owlstone closed a $58 million Series D financing round. Earlier this month, SQI acquired the SARS-CoV-2 testing business and related molecular diagnostic technology assets of Precision Biomonitoring for nearly $7 million.