Ares Genetics, a subsidiary of molecular diagnostic solutions developer Curetis, has launched an early access programme for its artificial intelligence- (AI) powered, next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based molecular antibiotic susceptibility test (AST).

The molecular AST will be marketed under the brand name ARESupa – Universal Pathogenome Assay, which is an expanded version of the NGS-based ARESupa.

ARESupa was launched in August to identify resistant genes and pathogens.

According to the company, the latest version of the ARESupa can predict antibiotic susceptibility accurately due to an AI-powered interpretation of high-throughput DNA sequencing data.

Based on whole-genome sequencing of bacterial strains that have been isolated from clinical specimens, ARESupa also combines data analysis and interpretation powered by ARESdb, which is the firm’s proprietary reference database on genetic antimicrobial resistance markers.

ARESdb includes genomes of approximately 40,000 bacterial strains in addition to associated susceptibility data for over 100 antibiotics.

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The firm has secured commercial orders for over 1,000 ARESupa tests – an order volume worth €500,000.

Along with advanced bioinformatics and AI services leveraging ARESdb for the diagnostics and pharma industry, as well as access to certain rights, Ares Genetics has received orders worth over €2m in 2019.

A blinded evaluation study, which was carried out recently with an IVD player, showed a predictive performance of the AI-powered ARESupa that was in line with FDA requirements for over 50 drug/pathogen combinations.

Additional blinded evaluation studies with academic medical centres are expected for Q4/2019.

As the early access programme picks up momentum, the company expects broader commercialisation of the AI-powered antibiotic susceptibility test to begin early next year.

Initially, the test will be offered for non-diagnostic applications in infection control, epidemiology, and outbreak analysis for entities in the public health and pharma sectors.

A laboratory-developed test (LDT) is planned on native patient samples for human diagnostic use in indications where culture-based diagnostic practice is currently challenging.

Recently, Ares Genetics entered into a multi-phase strategic partnership with an undisclosed in vitro diagnostics firm for the joint development of diagnostic solutions for infectious disease testing based on the ARESupa.

Its R&D programmes for the development of ARESupa are co-funded by non-dilutive public grants offered by the Vienna Business Agency, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), and other institutions with a total co-funded volume of more than €3 million.

In addition to ARESupa, Ares Genetics offers advanced bioinformatics and AI services to customers in the pharmaceutical industry and in public health.