Spectral Platforms Platform Technology

We have developed several new technology elements that can be combined into powerful diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

  • The ability to incorporate any hydrophobic molecule into a protein that solubilizes it.  While plasma-protein binding is relatively well understood, it has not been exploited to transport/deliver hydrophobic molecules.  More recently, several groups have created protein nanoparticles as carriers for hydrophobic molecules.  Our technology is unique in that we can incorporate any hydrophobic molecule into a protein without invoking any chemical bonds (which means we can retain all the properties of that protein)
  • The use of such systems to deliver the hydrophobic molecule onto the surface of a pathogenic microorganism.  Since we retain the protein's properties, we are able to use specific proteins that bind to, and deliver the hydrophobic molecule to the surface of any pathogenic microorganism.  
  • This system affords a mechanism whereby special optical tags can be delivered onto any viable pathogenic microorganism present in a test sample, irrespective of the pathogen's specific ID.  We exploit this as a diagnostic test for the presence/absence of any pathogenic microorganism in a test sample (this is the basis for our InSpector-01 technology).  We also exploit this as a diagnostic test for the concentration of pathogenic microorganisms, which can be developed into a test that characterizes antimicrobial susceptibility (InSpector-02).
  • This system also affords a drug delivery mechanism wherein the drug can be preferentially delivered to the surface of the pathogenic microorganism.  The end result is enhanced efficacy of the drug.

InSpector-01 Technology

We use resonance Raman technology to characterize an optical tag that is preferentially concentrated on the surface of any pathogenic microorganism that may be present in our test vial.  The laser light interacts with the optical tag in a manner that alters the tag if the tag is concentrated on the pathogen.  This results in an altered Raman signature, which gives us an output.  If the optical tag is present in solution, then our output remains at zero.  In the example above, samples 2,4,6 & 8 had 10 CFUs of S. aureus added to 600 micro-liters of pooled human serum; and this mixture was added to our proprietary reagent and tested in our InSpector-01 tool over 10 minutes.  For infected and uninfected samples, we get an output in the red band and blue bands, respectively.  We are currently validating this technology at select hospitals around the world with patient samples.

Our technology can characterize the presence of any pathogenic microorganism in our test vial.  An independent laboratory in the UK has validated this test against 23 different pathogenic microorganisms, with a verified limit of detection of 2 CFU/mL.

The output from InSpector-01 scales with pathogen concentration.  Thus, the technology can be used to characterize certain clinical conditions where pathogen concentration is important (examples include Central Line Associated Bloodstream infection CLABSI)

InSpector-02 Technology

Our technology affords a semi-quantitative assessment of pathogen concentration.  We can exploit this feature to rapidly characterize a prediction for the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC).  For this, we incubate the patient sample until the pathogen concentration has increased to above 200 CFU/mL.  We then aliquot the test sample into several parts that are added to our proprietary reagent, along with a variable concentration of any candidate antimicrobial.  This mixture is incubated for an additional 20 minutes and then tested over 10 minutes.  

At the end of the 20 minute incubation period, the pathogen concentration scales with antimicrobial concentration ~ when the antimicrobial concentration exceeds the MIC, then pathogen growth is suppressed.  Thus, the output from our instrument scales with antimicrobial concentration.

The chart above illustrates one example of this ~ the rapid characterization of the MIC of vancomycin against S. aureus at 200 CFU/mL.  The chart on the bottom depicts the optical output from our instrument; with the break point representing the predicted MIC of 0.2 micro-grams/mL.  The chart on the top depicts the absorbance at 600 nm after an additional 18 hour incubation at 37°C ~ this mimics the conventional method by which MIC is characterized.  The break point of 0.2 micro-grams/mL represents the actual MIC.  

We have verified this approach for several drug/pathogen combinations ~ in all cases, our rapid prediction for MIC (available within 4 hours of a blood draw) is within 10% of the MIC developed with conventional methods.  We expect to initiate clinical testing of this InSpector-02 tool in 2017