Israel’s PhagoLum to Make Sepsis History
August 3, 2008
In the United States, sepsis is the leading cause of death in non-coronary ICU patients, and the 10th most common cause of death overall. It occurs in 1-2 percent of all hospitalizations and kills more people each year than stroke, breast cancer and lung cancer combined.
Early diagnosis and treatment choice for sepsis is a daily challenge in intensive care units, says Avi Reinhartz, the CEO of PhagoLum – a company that has developed a new diagnostic kit for sepsis, expected to be in hospital labs by the end of 2010.
Clinical trials are planned for 2009, however, the company’s new kit is considered to be a diagnostic breakthrough, as it can let doctors obtain an early and accurate sepsis diagnosis and increase the survival of patients.
“Sepsis is a blood infection that in its severe stages causes the loss of balance of major systems in the body, failure of vital organs leading in many cases to death,” says Reinhartz to ISRAEL21c.
Reinartz explains that with today’s super-bugs and resistance to drugs, sepsis can occur during a simple operation or through a routine dialysis.
PhagoLum’s test will cost about $50 per blood test and will include active reagents and special IP software.
The test works by measuring the metabolic activity of a person’s white cells. Using a unique method based on PhagoLum’s bio mathematical model, the test can diagnose sepsis in early stages, identify the type of intruder to the blood – such as bacterial, fungal or viral – it will let doctors know where the infection has originated, and at what stage it has developed.
Unlike standard culture tests or new tests such as Polymerase Chain Reaction, PhagoLum will be able to give comprehensive information about the disease. Ultimately the test, by way of its software, will help define specific clinical outcomes for each patient.
This is good news for the tens of thousands of American families who lose loved ones each year to sepsis.
“Sepsis can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere, and it’s important to know the signs and symptoms, because a fast response can make the difference between life and death,” said Prof. Mitchell Levy, from Brown University School of Medicine, in a press release educating Americans about the condition.
Doctors, he said, “must know the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment options. It is important to know that sepsis does not only affect the aged or the dying.”
Hoping to make the technology available to hospitals worldwide, PhagoLum recently received a $2 million investment from Ashkelon Technological Industries to help make the idea commercial.
“We are taking a mathematical model for building clinical profiles,” says Reinhartz, and “can detect sepsis early, determine if there is a blood infection or if a person is healthy.”
This is a real breakthrough, he says. “We measure the entire activity of the white blood cells. As we know these activities are affected by the immune and inflammatory systems – we extract information from it.”
Dr. Moni Magrisso from Ben Gurion University initiated the science behind PhagoLum and is the chief scientist of the company. Clinical trials are now underway at the Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. “This will be the gold standard solution for testing and treating sepsis,” predicts Reinhartz.