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HelixBind Awarded $2M in CARB-X Funding for Culture-Free BSI Test Development

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – HelixBind will receive up to $2 million in funding from public-private partnership CARB-X to develop antibacterial products and rapid diagnostics, the company announced today. 

The funding is for development of a culture-free diagnostic platform called RaPID and the first test to be implemented on the platform, a bloodstream infection (BSI) assay that aims to provide identification of pathogens and drug resistance within hours, directly from blood samples.

"We believe RaPID will enable clinicians to place patients on targeted antimicrobial days sooner, leading to better outcomes, reduced time in the hospital, and improved antibiotic stewardship," said the Boston-based firm's founder and CEO, Alon Singer.

The diagnostic is molecular in nature, and includes technologies for pathogen isolation and selective lysis, according to the company. Specifically, it uses PCR to amplify 16s and 18s ribosomal RNA from bacteria, and species-specific artificial nucleic acid probes for post-amplification detection.

CARB-X, short for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Accelerator, is a nonprofit partnership headquartered at Boston University comprising a portfolio of about 20 antibacterial products in clinical development.

Over a five-year period from 2016 to 2021, the organization plans to invest $455 million in innovative antibiotics and other therapeutics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics, and devices to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections. The monies come from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the Wellcome Trust, with in-kind support from the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Other CARB-X partners include RTI International, the Broad Institute, MassBio, and the California Life Sciences Institute. 

The organization will specifically fund innovative antibiotics and other therapeutics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics, and devices to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections.

"HelixBind's diagnostic project is an exciting addition to the Powered by CARB-X portfolio, building the number of diagnostics in the portfolio and enhancing its diversity," Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X said in a statement. "The ability to identify infections and drug-resistant bacteria in a timely manner will enable doctors to treat patients more effectively and save lives."