A sharpshooter for bacteria is in development to combat infections in the Intensive Care Unit.

BiosparQ, a diagnostics company based in Leiden, thinks it can make an important contribution to the treatment of coronavirus COVID-19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit, but is urgently looking for partners.

It concerns the analysis and combat of co-infections in the Intensive Care Unit, which can complicate the treatmentof patients who are already fighting for their lives. BiosparQ, in the race for the Dutch National Icon title last year, has developed a device that can identify the specific bacteria causing an infection within half an hour. Culturing bacteria on a petri dish, a timely process, is no longer needed.
On the topic of potential co-infections, director Business Development Gerold de Valk says the following: “Especially in the case of using respiratory ventilators, when tubes enter the body, bacterial co-infections could arise. It never occurred to us until now that this could become so problematic. The coronacrisis showed us that during a pandemic there is a dire need for quick information about these so-called co-infections in order to potentially safe a patient’s life.”

However: BiosparQ is a small company and the first version of the device, which is currently being tested in Utrecht, focuses specifically on bacteria present in urinary tract infections. That being said, De Valk is certain that with the right help and resources it can be converted quickly. “We would like to further develop the technology to analyze bacterial lung infections. It requires a new way of sample preparation than in urine. To do so, we need to find a large collaboration partner with resources and production capacity. Only then, we can work quickly. As of now we are only a group of fifteen. In addition, we need clinical partners, such as academic medical centers, that have these bacteria in the freezer – together we can then translate them into “fingerprints” for further analysis.’’
If BiosparQ succeeds in finding partners, De Valk states that he will have the first prototypes ready for use in academic hospitals in about nine months. That is to say, in time for the ex-pected second wave of coronavirus COVID-19 infections. “The question is, of course, whether they already have the virus under control in the next wave. With the Spanish flu, the second wave was even worse.”

The Dutch Association for Intensive Care (NVIC) sincerely hopes that a device like the one outlined by De Valk will get the support needed in order to make it reality.
“I wouldn’t say it is “common,” but the fact is that you have an increased risk of infection at the Intensive Care Unit. Not necessarily only with corona, but in general. Getting culture re-sults out of the lab can take up to four days, so if there is a device that can tell you which bacteria is present in half an hour, it is a game changer. With this apparatus treatment becomes very targeted, while now it is more of a buckshot.”

source: Leidsch Dagblad, Binnert Glastra, 15 April 2020

April 15th, 2020