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Cepheid, MedImmune, COMBACTE Ink Bacterial Dx Collaboration

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Cepheid today announced a collaboration with MedImmune and the COMBACTE consortium to develop rapid tests for the diagnosis of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

The tests will look for signs of infection in respiratory secretions of mechanically ventilated patients, to help identify patients for clinical trials evaluating the use of biologics to prevent ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) in intensive care unit patients.

Under the terms of the collaboration, Cepheid has adapted its existing Xpert MRSA/SA skin and soft tissue infection test cartridge for use with respiratory sample types and has developed a new Xpert test to identify patients colonized by P. aeruginosa. The tests run on Cepheid's high-throughput GeneXpert molecular diagnostic system.

The S. aureus and methicillin-resistant S. aureus test is being used in ongoing clinical trials for a novel monoclonal antibody that targets alpha toxin produced by the bacteria, and the P. aeruginosa test will be used to enroll patients in clinical trials for a bispecific antibody, starting early this year. 

MedImmune is the biologics-related R&D arm of AstraZeneca; COMBACTE (Combating Bacterial Resistance in Europe) is a European partnership to promote new drug development for infectious diseases.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, S. aureus and P. aeruginosa account for  more than 40 percent of VAP infections in the United States, extending the length of stay in the ICU by an average of 17 days after onset of pneumonia, with a mortality of almost 30 percent, even with the use of currently available antibiotics.

Last week, Sunnyvale, California-based Cepheid signed a MOU with the US Agency for International Development to support the National Action Plan for Combating Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis.