Debiopharm commits $6M to a sepsis test developer

Debiopharm, the Swiss diagnostics and drug conglomerate, committed $6 million in new financing to a startup focused on developing a late-stage sepsis test.

Immunexpress, which is based in Australia and the U.S., has worked with Debiopharm since June 2012, the companies said in their deal announcement. The investment keeps their process going at a crucial time, Immunexpress President and CEO Roslyn Brandon said in a statement.

"Support and funding from Debiopharm will provide us with the resources necessary to advance and commercialize our proprietary SeptiCyte technology for critical care patients," she said.

Immunexpress said its SeptiCyte tech is able to quantify a number of molecular biomarkers in the patient's own immune system to enable quick detection and management of sepsis compared to regular pathogen detection. The company said it converts that data into an objective score that makes everything from earlier diagnosis to assessment of severity both easier and more certain, and the company is hoping to apply its platform to other diagnostic tests down the line.

Sepsis is a severe and often fatal hospital-acquired infection. Chances for successful treatment increase the sooner doctors can spot it. A number of players in industry and academia are working to come up with better sepsis diagnostics to accomplish this goal. BioFire Diagnostics (recently acquired by French diagnostics developer bioMérieux for $450M), just launched its FilmArray Diagnostic platform that handles diagnosis for infections including sepsis, and can identify more than 100 sepsis-related pathogens. Thermo Fisher ($TMO) and Roche Diagostics ($RHHBY) are hard at work on their own sepsis diagnostics partnership, and researchers at the National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe, NM, are developing their own blood test to predict sepsis-related death.

There are also teams such as a group at King's College London, which developed a rapid blood test designed to detect sepsis at a patient's bedside, enabling a quick response with antibiotics.

Immunexpress is based in Brisbane and Seattle, and launched initially in 2006 as Athlomics Pty Ltd. It rebranded with its current name in 2011, according to its website.

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