Harvard’s Wyss Institute and VC firm Miraki Innovation have created a joint venture BOA Biomedical, which is developing a device that could diagnose and treat infectious diseases.
Harvard’s Wyss Institute and VC firm Miraki Innovation have joined forces to create BOA Biomedical, which is developing a device that could diagnose and treat infectious diseases. The company hopes to advance technology that can better manage antibiotic-resistant microbes and sepsis.
“It’s important to intervene from a diagnosis standpoint but also a monitoring and treatment standpoint,” said Miraki founder and executive chairman Christopher Velis in a phone interview. “That is BOA’s focus, to be able to better diagnose, better track and better understand sepsis and infections.”
Mitigating antibiotic resistance and sepsis will be a major challenge for BOA, but the payoffs could be enormous. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 6 million people die each year from sepsis, while 700,000 people die from resistant infections. The toll from antibiotic resistance could increase to 10 million by 2050.
“If antibiotic resistance continues, we’re going to have inadequate therapeutic tools to deal with the problem,” said Velis. “There’s a legitimate concern that we’re entering a world where even a paper cut could end up being a cause of death because of antibiotic resistance.”
BOA’s solution is a filtering system that could act as an artificial spleen. Developed by the Wyss Institute’s founding director Donald Ingber and colleagues, the technology is designed to remove blood-borne pathogens and pathogen-associated molecular pattern molecules (PAMPs), microbial remnants that can trigger the massive inflammatory response associated with sepsis.
The key to BOA’s approach is a genetically engineered protein designed to act like molecular Velcro, binding to both PAMPs and pathogens but leaving blood cells alone. Velis notes the technology is microbe agnostic and could help detect and manage both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi, potentially accelerating diagnoses.
“If we can concentrate them, we can read their molecular signature and identify them,” says Velis. “We believe that we will be able to cut the time to identify what is making someone sick from three to five days – for bacteria only – down to hours or less.”
Using the tool as a diagnostic would require a relatively small amount of blood. The isolated molecules could be analyzed through mass spectrometry or other methods to identify the exact pathogen(s).
Therapeutic applications would be more involved, as more blood would need to pass through the filtration system to physically remove the pathogens. BOA has received an investigational device exemption from the Food & Drug Administration to begin human safety and efficacy trials.
“We have FDA approval to conduct a study on removing the PAMPs from the bloodstream and capture them through a filter,” said Velis, “initially doing it in conjunction with a kidney dialysis machine. If it’s effective, that form will change.”
The ability to isolate and quantify PAMPs could also provide new tools for researchers to better understand how infections and sepsis progress. BOA hopes to work with researchers and clinicians to fully understand how this technology could be applied.
“We’re going to need to develop standards and much more clear definitions and predictive models,” said Velis, “and that’s part of what these tools will help us do.”
Original Article: (https://medcitynews.com/2019/09/boa-biomedical-seeks-to-address-antibiotic-resistance-and-sepsis/)