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USTAR Spin-Out Receives Phase I Grant from the Grand Challenge Tuberculosis Control Program

Nanosynth, a USTAR supported University of Utah spin-out, in conjunction with its partner MGM Institute of Health Sciences (Mumbai) have been awarded a Phase I grant from the Grand Challenges Tuberculosis Control Program (GC-TBC). GC-TBC is an initiative that addresses the global health challenge of TB control by encouraging development and advancement of technology. The award will enhance Nanosynth’s clinical trial in Mumbai and will make the company eligible for larger grant opportunities to support the development and commercialization of its technology.

There are two major challenges with TB: an inability to adequately screen the large amount of patients who have been exposed to or have symptoms of TB, and the inability to track and focus on limited resources of testing and treating the highest risk patients.

Of the 8.6 million new active TB cases that occur every year, roughly three million are missed by healthcare systems due to the lack of an accurate and fast screening test that is deployable outside centralized health care facilities, the cost of current testing options, and the inability to track the screening efforts that do take place. Because a TB patient can transmit the disease to 10 or more family members or friends in a year, post-diagnosis tracking and follow-up is a significant challenge in controlling and eliminating the disease.

“Current screening methods for TB primarily rely on general symptoms the patient may have, such as a cough or a fever,” said Jason Young, CEO of Nanosynth. “While these are symptoms of TB, they can also be caused by a wide range of diseases. As a result, of the patients that are tested, up to 80 percent do not have active TB, stretching the limited resources that are available for TB testing.”

Nanosynth’s TB detection device is decentralizing screening efforts out of clinics, allowing rural and low resource populations access to TB diagnostics and ultimately care. Nanosynth’s test requires only a patient’s breath and can be taken into the community or villages where the patients live, instead of requiring them to travel to a clinic or laboratory. The nanotube-based sensor detects the biomarkers that are only created by the bacteria that cause TB.

“By detecting these biomarkers in the patient’s breath, Nanosynth will identify those patients at the highest risk off having active TB,” said Young. “If the biomarkers are not present in the breath, the patients can be ruled out and not undergo expensive confirmatory testing. This will help to save limited resources by focusing testing on the ones most likely to have the disease.”

The company is preparing to launch its initial clinical trial at the Mahatma Gandhi Mission Institute of Health Sciences in Mumbai in early 2016.

“Based on the results of this first trial, we will work with our clinical partners around the world, including in India, Brazil, Uganda and Peru, on a multi-centered trial to validate the clinical utility of the screening platform,” said Young. “We are continuing to develop the data mapping and analytics platform to provide health-care related organizations and government agencies with the information they need to better understand the behavior of TB in their populations.”

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