Ares Genetics, an Austrian subsidiary of the German Curetis Group, has launched an early access program for its AI-driven antibiotic susceptibility test.
The company, which focuses on molecular diagnostics, has a large, regularly updated database of genetic information on disease-causing microbes including strains showing antimicrobial resistance. The new test uses high-resolution sequencing to gain genetic information about the microbial strain in question and then uses AI technology to scan the database and interpret the results within six hours.
Ares Genetics began developing the test in 2018. According to the company, it has already met FDA efficacy requirements for antibiotic susceptibility tests by matching the accuracy of an approved susceptibility test in 50 drug-microbe combinations in a blinded comparison. However, it emphasizes that additional blinded accuracy trials of the test are planned in the near future.
The company is allowing some customers early access to the test, which is called the ARESupa – Universal Pathogenome Assay. This test adds AI prediction to the pre-existing ARESupa test that the company launched in August, which uses next-generation sequencing to identify disease-causing microbes and the antimicrobial resistance genes they carry.
Antimicrobial resistance is a big problem for healthcare providers and finding ways to predict if a specific strain is already resistant to available drugs can help get the right treatments to patients more quickly.
Ares Genetics stated it has already had over 1,000 commercial orders for the new assay, with a value of more than €500,000. The test is first being used for applications that do not involve direct patient diagnosis, such as epidemiology and outbreak analysis, but diagnostic testing of human samples is planned for the future.
Ares Genetics is not the only European company working in this area; Portugese startup FASTinov is developing antimicrobial susceptibility tests for use in hospitals. It is aiming to reduce the time needed for testing from more than 48 hours to two hours. An academic team at UCL in London is also developing AI to improve antimicrobial resistance testing, although the project is still at an early stage.
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