Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) and OpGen Inc (OPGN) Are Quietly Changing The Infectious Disease Landscape

This is where the potentially disruptive technology comes in. OpGen has developed what it calls Acuitas. It’s a one-hour antibiotic resistance test, and it’s designed to work in tandem with a proprietary system called Acuitas Lighthouse. The latter is essentially a giant database that stores information regarding pathogens, antibiotic resistance genes and treatment options.

How it works is first, a patient comes into a hospital, just as above, with an infectious disease. The physician administers the Acuitas test, and within one hour has results that detail the pathogen, and the antibiotic resistance profile of that specific pathogen. The data is then fed into Acuitas Lighthouse, and Lighthouse serves up results similar to those below:


Taken from this presentation, slide 12/27

The Lighthouse Profile is basically a reference point in the system. It’s what this particular patient’s pathogen is stored as for current and future use. The organism is that pathogen – in this instance, its K pneumoniae. Currently, it can take 24 hours or more to get just this one bit of information. Within the hour, however, the Acuitas Lighthouse system also returns the antibiotic resistance profile of the pathogen, detailed in the image as which genes the pathogen expresses.

The system then references these genes against a database of available antibiotics, and suggests which are the most suitable. Again, using the image as an example, the higher the number the lower the chances of the antibiotic being able to treat the disease, so here the physician knows instantly that Cefepime is unlikely to be effective, but Tigecycline should almost certainly solve the issue. This process can take days as things stand, and many patients can die during that period, which is the reason for the current inefficient and potentially dangerous cocktail approach. With this system in place, lives can be saved, and costs cut.

Where are we from a time frame standpoint? Lighthouse is ready and commercially available right now, and is filling up with data. The company aims to have the above process (albeit perhaps taking 2 or 3 hours) active globally by mid 2017. By late 2018, it OpGen expects the one-hour test to be established.

The takeaway here is that Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) and OpGen Inc (NASDAQ:OPGN) are working to not just improve the antibiotic resistance landscape, but make it unrecognizable from its current position. Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is the biggest company in the world from an antibiotic standpoint, and it’s very much in the company’s interests for the healthcare sector to not only be able to accurately diagnose infectious diseases, but also to treat them as effectively as possible. This extends the lifespan of its portfolio of products. More accurate diagnosis leads to fewer resistance buildups. The OpGen test and technology platform directly complements this interest, and Merck’s 37.5% stake in the former underlines this complementing quantifiably.

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Note: This article is written by Mark Collins and originally published at Market Exclusive.