Avisa Pharma recently participated in the inaugural University Startups Demo Day in Washington, D.C., funded by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer (NCET2). The company was listed among “Best University Startups 2016” along with 35 other startup companies.
During the event, Avisa presented its new BreathTest to an audience of Global 1000 and Fortune 500 companies and investors looking for opportunities.
The BreathTest is designed to detect pulmonary infections due to viruses. The technology comes out of the University of New Mexico.
The excessive use of antibiotics has created drug resistant bacteria, making antibiotics less effective. Patients with community acquired pneumonia seen in the emergency room are prescribed powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotics about 30 times more than actually needed. Those actions have led to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, causing unnecessary hospital admissions and increased length of stays in the hospital.
“The overuse of antibiotics has led to multi-drug resistance as well as a major unnecessary cost burden to our healthcare system,” said David Joseph, chief executive officer of Avisa, in a press release. “To help fix this problem, there is an urgent need to quickly and accurately diagnose respiratory infections so patients can be properly treated.”
Avisa dealt with the problem by developing the noninvasive, quantitative, point-of-care BreathTest for rapidly detecting pulmonary infections due to certain virulent pathogens without the need to collect and culture sputum or other biological samples. The test is based on the presence of the urease enzyme found in certain bacterial species that cause pneumonia, such as S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, Klebsiella and H. influenzae.
Avisa’s BreathTest “produces highly sensitive results in just 10 minutes, enabling healthcare professionals to quickly determine the appropriate antibiotic to use. Current decision-making is empirical due to the delay in getting lab results that could take up to 24 to 48 hours,” Joseph said.
The test is directed at hospital wards, emergency rooms, and intensive care units where severe pneumonia cases are seen and antibiotic resistant bacteria are more likely to be present.
A pilot study for the BreathTest is expected to start soon. The company is also planning to conduct a pilot study for the diagnosis of ventilator-associated pneumonia. Positive preclinical results have already been seen in conditions like tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis.