The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has partnered with OpGen and ILUM Health Solutions, a subsidiary of Merck Health Services and Solutions, to develop a research program to detect, track and manage antimicrobial-resistant infections at healthcare centers throughout the state.
According to the details of the partnership, OpGen will work with NYSDOH’s Wadsworth Center and ILUM in developing an infectious disease digital health and precision medicine platform, that “uses genomic microbiology for statewide surveillance and control of antimicrobial resistance.”
Project will create jobs
The partnership is initially for one year; OpGen will get a $1.5 million contract for a 12-month demonstration of the project. If targets are met, ILUM will invest $48.6 million over five years, a move that is expected to create 115 jobs. The company will also relocate to the Albany region.
“ILUM’s relocation to the capital region will serve as a clear illustration of the distinct commercial benefit of the unique scientific assets of the Wadsworth lab, encouraging other companies to collaborate with Wadsworth and engage in innovative partnerships that offer economic benefits for the capital region and New York State,” a statement said.
In addition, the partnership will receive $22.4 million from the New York State Life Sciences Initiative.
“The goal of this project is to improve patient outcomes and save healthcare dollars by integrating real-time epidemiologic surveillance with rapid delivery of resistance results to care-givers via web-based and mobile platforms,” a statement said.
OpGen Chief Executive Officer, Evan Jones, described the partnership with ILUM and the NYSDOH as a groundbreaking initiative “to help develop the blueprint for how governments and healthcare facilities can detect, track, and manage antimicrobial-resistant infections.”
New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, was equally buoyant, saying the partnership will “create new, cutting-edge tools to bring life-changing discoveries out of the lab and into the world, moving our economy forward and creating a stronger, healthier New York for all.
Cuomo also said that by “investing in public health institutions and innovative research, we are working to protect New Yorkers against harmful infectious diseases while cementing our status as a leader in the growing life sciences sector.”
With this partnership, New York State Health Commissioner, Howard A. Zucker said that under Cuomo’s leadership, “New York State is setting the standard in addressing the threat of antimicrobial resistance. New York’s Wadsworth Center is uniquely qualified to partner with OpGen and ILÚM Health Solutions as part of our response to this public health concern.”
What OpGen and ILUM bring to the table
Among the precision medicine solutions that OpGen and ILUM will provide are the OpGen Acuitas AMR Gene Panel u.5.47, “a distributed, rapid diagnostics platform capable of detection and identification of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens in under three hours and for use with the Acuitas Lighthouse Software. Together, these products can rapidly identify and locate antibiotic resistance threats in healthcare institutions and networks.”
These systems are commercially available for research use only and will be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval at the conclusion of ongoing and planned clinical trials.
The two firms will also provide the OpGen Acuitas Lighthouse Software, which includes Acuitas Lighthouse epidemiology dashboards with high-resolution pathogen tracking through healthcare facilities, to cities, regions, as well as the entire state.
The partnership will also use ILUM’s Commercial Off The Shelf technology platform, “which assembles and streams analyzed health data — such as lab results, pharmacy information, admissions, discharges, and transfers — from across locations and healthcare systems. It can also be used for patient monitoring, and can provide actionable insights to help quality improvement, disease surveillance, and pathway adherence.”
The cost of antibiotic resistant infections to the U.S. economy
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the U.S. faces 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths, while $35 billion is lost in productivity due to antibiotic resistant infections.
The partnership with OpGen and ILUM is part of New York State’s strategy to secure private partners to collaborate with the Wadsworth Center to build a statewide life science ecosystem.
“Wadsworth will function as a magnet for future private sector investments where employees, visiting researchers, company executives, and academic partners collaborate, accelerating innovation and value creation. A modern facility and committed co-investment will serve as a flagship project for New York State, signaling a strong and long-term commitment to the Capital Region’s life sciences industry,” a statement from Cuomo’s office said.