NEW YORK – The Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) announced Monday that it will provide up to $1.8 million to Australian diagnostics developer SpeeDx to support development of a rapid point-of-care test to diagnose Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections, as well as determine the antibiotic susceptibility of gonorrhea infections.
SpeeDx will also be eligible for an additional $1.9 million in milestone-based funding, CARB-X noted in a statement.
The Sydney-based firm will now develop its InSignia CT/NG detection and susceptibility test to be used on the battery-powered QuantuMDx Q-POC portable PCR device, with the goal of developing a simple-to-use 60-minute assay that can identify the best oral antibiotic from among those available in low- and middle-income countries. A project to assess the feasibility of porting SpeeDx assays to the instrument from UK-based QuantuMDx was funded by the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics in 2019.
CARB-X is a nonprofit global partnership led by Boston University and to support the development of innovative therapeutics and diagnostics for antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
"Treating gonorrhea is increasingly challenging, and in some cases not possible because Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the causative agent of gonorrhea, has developed resistance to most existing antibiotics," said Erin Duffy, research and development chief at CARB-X. "Faster diagnostics have the potential to help inform treatment decisions, and those diagnostics that can be deployed in low-resource settings are sorely needed," Duffy added.
Gonorrhea "superbugs" are thought to be a growing problem worldwide. The bacteria infect as many as 78 million people each year, including 1.1 million infections in the US. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that 550,000 of these infections involve drug-resistant strains.
Since its launch in 2016, CARB-X has made 87 awards worth more than $326.8 million. The nonprofit currently has 57 active projects focused exclusively on drug-resistant bacteria, including 11 rapid diagnostics. Overall, CARB-X intends to invest up to $480 million between 2016 and 2022 to support the early development of new antibiotics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics, and other products.
In addition to sexually-transmitted infection pathogen detection that supports resistance-guided therapy, SpeeDx is also developing respiratory tests as well as developing a host-response assay for respiratory viruses.