T2 Biosystems, On-Q-ity, and GnuBIO Report Progress in Hunting for Signs of Disease

Xconomy Boston — 

[Updated. 4/8/11. 8:09 am Eastern. See updates to section on On-Q-ity.] T2 Biosystems has chosen deadly blood-borne yeast infections as the lead targets of its system for rapidly and accurately diagnosing diseases. And the Lexington, MA-based firm is revealing results this morning from lab experiments that show the potential of its diagnostic for Candida infections to improve upon the current culture-based methods of spotting the fungal invaders.

The company says that its magnetic biosensor approach was able identify five species of Candida—the most common and deadly form of hospital-acquired fungal infections—from whole blood samples and provide a result in less than two hours. This is much faster than the two or more days it can take to conduct blood culture tests in which the fungi are grown and analyzed to provide a result. Shortening the time needed to diagnose patients’ specific yeast infections enables doctors to put them on the proper antifungal treatment quickly, potentially saving their lives, John McDonough, T2 Biosystems’ CEO, said.

The firm is planning to make the Candida test the first application of its diagnostic system, which has the potential to be used in detecting a wide variety of molecular biomarkers for diseases. The firm plans to seek FDA clearance for its magnetic biosensor system and Candida test in 2012. McDonough says that the company is also pursuing other tests for use with its system, including one for bacterial infections, but he declined to provide specifics about the type of bugs or timing of the commercial release.

T2 Biosystems, which has raised about $31 million from investors since it was founded in 2006, has been one of the high-flyers among developers of advanced diagnostics. The firm has engineered a desktop diagnostic system that uses magnetic resonance—using magnets that are about four inches in diameter as opposed to large magnets used in bulky in MRI systems—and nanotechnology to detect all manner of biological substances in a range of samples types such as blood, saliva, and urine. The small size, speed of results, and broad applicability of the system give it the potential to transform how diseases are diagnosed, the company claims.

Meanwhile, On-Q-ity has revealed research of its improved method of … Next Page »

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