A novel pathogen identification approach using DNA ‘fingerprints’
Dr Flavia Huygens has developed and validated a process that uses Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) to delineate bacterial populations by mathematically maximising the resolving power of these SNPs. The test homes in on these SNPs, the pathogen’s DNA ‘fingerprint’, found at a specific point in its genetic code. By focusing on SNPs rather than the whole genome, the process is fast, inexpensive, highly sensitive and can be adapted to address different target pathogens.
To date, this approach has been successfully applied to characterise several bacterial pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus, Neisseria meningitidis, Campylobacter jejunii, Streptococcus agalactiae, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium. This technology was considered a world-first and is unique in its design and application, leading to several
The test was refined and became InfectID, which uses real-time PCR followed by high-resolution melt-curve analysis (MCA) to identify pathogen species directly from whole blood without the need to pre-culture.
Clinical research demonstrates the approach’s specificity
In 2015, Dr Huygens led a collaborative trial with the Microbiology Central Laboratory, Pathology
Queensland, which involved testing 300 patient samples: 100 negative samples
and 200 positive samples. The study found that InfectID had a specificity of 98.5% in correctly
identifying bacterial species from blood samples.
Microbio founded to take InfectID to market
Microbio was founded in 2018 by Dr Huygens and Paul Carboon. Their aim was to build a scientific and commercialisation team to bring Microbio’s pathogen diagnostic test out of the laboratory and into the market to benefit human health and wellbeing.
Seed funding raised to conduct preclinical verification
An initial funding round provided the capital to establish the laboratory research team. Preclinical testing began on patient whole blood samples in two Queensland Hospitals. Early results indicate >99% specificity for the 25 most common sepsis-causing pathogens:
Establish the Microbio team
A Series A capital raise closed on 30 September 2020. This funding will allow for the continued growth of the team to facilitate the commercialisation of InfectID. The emergence of COVID-19 motivated the team to develop a SARS-CoV-2 test designed to identify the presence of replicating virus.