Last week, French molecular diagnostic firm PathoQuest announced that it has raised €3.8 million ($4.98 million) in a series B fundraiser that it will use to run a clinical study to test its flagship product – a diagnostic pipeline for detecting infectious diseases that includes a cloud-based bioinformatics workflow and sample prep reagent kits.
Specifically, PathoQuest will use the new funds to run a proof-of-concept study that will test its pipeline on data from 300 immunocompromised patients and compare it to existing pathogen detection methods such as cell cultures, Luc Boblet, the company's CEO told BioInform. This 12-month clinical study, which will start this September, will focus on diagnosing severe multi-etiological-based infectious episodes in patients with suppressed immune systems as a result of congenital changes or acquired through immuno-suppressing treatments post-transplant or through anticancer chemotherapy.
PathoQuest is running the year-long study in partnership with a local hospital in Paris, France. It intends to launch a second study next year in the US that will further test the efficacy of its pipeline on a separate cohort of patients. Boblet said that the company already has a US-based partner for that trial but he declined to disclose details about the study or who the partner is.
PathoQuest's solution combines a series of proprietary algorithms and cloud computing infrastructure under a software-as-a-service model, and reagent kits. The sample prep step lets users extract and amplify DNA from various kinds of pathogens including bacteria, viruses, and fungi in clinical samples, sequence the samples on whatever instrument they choose, and then upload their reads to the company's hardware. There, PathoQuest's algorithms filter the data, assign taxonomies, and re-assemble the sequences into genomes. Within two days, physicians will receive a report that details the microbes found in the sample, Boblet said.
He believes the test's accuracy and its rapid time to results make it a good complement to the battery of tests used by diagnostic firms like LabCorp and Quest, such as cell cultures and PCR to test for harmful microbes. With PathoQuest, the clinician does not have to know what sort of pathogen to test for because the system takes into account multiple possible species and strains when its analyzing the data, he said. It's also much faster than current testing approaches which can take up to 14 days to run a full battery of tests and return results – time an immunocompromised patient might not have. Finally, it helps select more personalized treatments for patients since they know which particular pathogen they are dealing with, he added.
PathoQuest expects to launch its first commercial product for use in hospitals in 2015. Boblet told BioInform that the company is still discussing pricing for its service.
PathoQuest, which spun out of the Pasteur Institute and National Veterinary School of Alfort in 2010, intends to make its bread and butter by developing and marketing solutions for use in diagnosing infectious diseases.
The current fundraising round saw the addition of two new investors to the company's roster: Idinvest and Aurinvest – a private equity firm and venture fund respectively – which join existing investor Kurma Life Science Partners.