Company News: Curetis Starts Subsidiary Ares Genetics to Advance Genetic Antibiotic Resistance Testing
– Successful completion of GEAR asset and know how transfer from Siemens to Curetis
Curetis N.V. (the “Company” and, together with Curetis GmbH, “Curetis”), a developer of next-level molecular diagnostic solutions, today announced that the Company has established Ares Genetics GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Curetis GmbH. Ares Genetics builds on GEAR GEnetic Antibiotic Resistance and Susceptibility Database and associated assets recently acquired for Siemens.
The Company will use GEAR to investigate the genetic foundations of antibiotic resistance and develop and subsequently commercialize novel approaches to improve the rapid detection of antibiotic resistance in patients with microbial infections as well as tools to accelerate antibiotic research. Ares Genetics has been established in Vienna, Austria, in close proximity to the Vienna Biocenter VBC and is headed by Dr. Andreas Posch, who has joined Curetis in March from Siemens as Director GEAR & Bio-IT and one of the Managing Directors of Ares Genetics. Dr. Posch headed the bioinformatics activities at Siemens Healthcare and was responsible for GEAR prior to the asset transfer to Curetis. In addition to Dr. Posch, Curetis´ CCO Dr. Achim Plum will act as a further Managing Director of Ares Genetics.
GEAR contains the entire DNA sequences of more than 11,000 bacterial strains as well as related sensitivity data for 21 antibiotics. The strains were isolated from patient samples at over 200 sites across the world over the last three decades. It is the most comprehensive set of genotype-phenotype combinations for antibiotic resistance today and builds on 30 Terabytes of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and drug susceptibility raw data. It allows to assemble and annotate bacterial genomes from NGS raw data, identify genetic variations in those genomes and correlate them with the response of the respective bacterial strain to antibiotics. GEAR was developed and compiled by Siemens in collaboration with two academic partners, the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) at Kiel University and the Clinical Bioinformatics Group of Saarland University headed by Prof. Dr. Andreas Keller who will continue working with Curetis as a key academic partner to further develop GEAR and investigate the genetics of antibiotic resistance.
Via its subsidiary Ares Genetics, Curetis will use GEAR as a biomarker engine to rapidly identify potential novel biomarkers, biomarker combinations, and algorithms predicting antibiotic resistance, as well as potential novel targets for antimicrobial drugs. In the future, GEAR may also pave the way towards fully genetic antibiograms and provide a reference for NGS-based clinical diagnostics.
“We are planning to leverage GEAR as a source for novel genetic markers to further improve the accuracy of rapid genetic tests for antibiotic resistance in life-threatening infections,” said Dr. Achim Plum, CCO of Curetis and the second Managing Director at Ares Genetics. “GEAR is a perfect fit for Curetis and will allow us to stay on top of the development of novel resistances.”
“GEAR will expand Curetis’ content leadership with novel antibiotic resistance markers and form the basis for additional business, including clinical decision support, pharma research or next-generation sequencing interpretation services,” said Dr. Andreas Posch, Managing Director at Ares Genetics. “We will pursue a partnership-based model for future R&D and commercialization. Our goal is to advance GEAR as a collaborative research platform for academic and translational research, public health, and industry partners. This will establish GEAR as the enabling technology platform for a broad and effective alliance against antibiotic resistances.”
To this end, the newly founded company is currently putting together a strong core team of bioinformatics expertise and life science project management to lead and coordinate all GEAR related R&D within the Curetis Group as well as collaborative projects with partners in industry and academia.
To demonstrate the potential of GEAR in our understanding of the genetics of resistance and to attract further partners in the clinical and scientific communities, Curetis together with its leading academic partners from the Clinical Bioinformatics Group of Saarland University is pursuing a comprehensive publication strategy to share numerous aspects of the data set.
“Together with Prof. Keller and our partners at Saarland University, we have already published a first paper on the accuracy of species identification using NGS data and further publications on genetic factors of resistances are in the pipeline. Following the publications, we also intend to make certain aspects of the GEAR database publicly available to stimulate our engagement with the relevant academic communities”, commented Dr. Posch.