Symcel Secures €3.6M for Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing

Symcel secures €3.6 million Horizon 2020 Phase II grant for clinical validation of customized antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Multi-resistant bacterial sepsis infections to be validated utilising Symcel’s sensitive screening technology

Symcel: 21 November 2017: Symcel, the company behind the revolutionary cell-based assay tool for real-time cell metabolism measurements, calScreener™, has secured €3.572 million Horizon 2020 funding to support the company’s evaluation of improved combination testing of antibiotics against extensively drug-resistant bacteria in sepsis patients. The project runs over 28 months with a consortium of internationally recognized academic and clinical key opinion leaders from Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden), Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal (Madrid, Spain), Careggi University Hospital (Florence, Italy), Rigshospitalet (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Symcel.

Antimicrobial resistance is increasing rapidly – often causing infections that are extremely difficult to treat and for which no single antibiotic has an effect. Conventional reference methods are outdated, slow and unsuitable to use against the new threat of hetero- and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) bacteria. Symcel´s screening technology will be validated as a new surrogate method to correctly and rapidly determine which antibiotics really work against multi-resistant bacteria. At the core of this problem is the unique possibility to evaluate combinations of antibiotics against XDR bacteria in the calScreener™ for synergistic effects. As WHO recently reported*, the world is running out of antibiotics – creating an immediate need for testing combinations of existing antibiotics against multi-resistant bacteria. At present, there is no clinically validated solution available, for multiple antibiotic resistance determination. calScreener™ may offer a potentially game-changing new reference method that provides the answer.

Jesper Ericsson, CEO of Symcel commented: “the spread of multi-resistant bacteria is one the most severe risks globally to human health. The world is on the cusp of a post-antibiotic era where the healthcare community faces certain harmful bacteria that are resistant to all known drugs. Consequently, little can be done to treat the critically ill patients concerned. There is a large unmet need for a technology like calScreener™ that measures the metabolism of bacteria. The only way to really be sure an antibiotic is effective in killing bacteria. The prospective clinical validation is a great opportunity for Symcel.”

Christian Giske, Deputy Head of Microbiology at Dep. of Laboratory Medicine at Karolinska Institutet and Head Physician of Bacteriology at Karolinska University Hospital, commented: “I am pleased to be part of the consortium on this exciting project. With increasing antimicrobial resistance, more individualized solutions with rapid and accurate quantitative measurements are needed as well as predicting the effects of combination therapy.”

Magnus Jansson, CSO of Symcel added: “The goal is to provide a diagnostic tool with high speed, specificity, and sensitivity in a smartly designed and packaged device with the tools available to perform multiple antibiotic susceptibility testing in a hospital setting.”

There is a large unmet need across the international healthcare community to handle and reduce antimicrobial resistance and a successful clinical validation of calScreenerTM in the Horizon 2020 project will significantly support this.

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Click here to read the press release from Karolinska Institutet around the use of calScreener for combination testing of antibiotics.

* WHO report, Antibacterial agents in clinical development – an analysis of the antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including tuberculosis, launched today by WHO shows a severe lack of new antibiotics under development to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.

“Pharmaceutical companies and researchers must urgently focus on new antibiotics against certain types of severe infections that can kill patients in a matter of days because we have no line of defense,” says Dr. Suzanne Hill, Director of the Department of Essential Medicines at WHO.