OpGen said today it will partner with Merck & Co. to develop new rapid diagnostics and information technology products designed to fight antimicrobial resistance, in a collaboration whose value was not disclosed.

Under the research alliance, Merck has agreed to provide access to its archive of over 200,000 bacterial pathogens gathered over the last 15 years through Merck’s Study for Monitoring Antimicrobial Resistance Trends (SMART), which the pharma giant supports in collaboration with International Health Management Associates (IHMA).

OpGen has agreed to perform genomic analysis and microbiology testing for drug resistance and incorporate this information into its Acuitas® Lighthouse Knowledgebase and the development of rapid DNA tests.

In addition to predicting antibiotic failures by identifying resistance determinants, OpGen’s technology is under study as the foundation for using molecular diagnostic tests to predict pathogen susceptibility and guide patient management choices, with the aim of improving patient outcomes.

OpGen said it will initially perform molecular analyses on up to 10,000 pathogens to identify markers of resistance to support rapid decision making using the Acuitas Lighthouse® MDRO Management System (Lighthouse Portal), as well as speed development of OpGen’s rapid diagnostic platforms.

Merck will gain access to the high-resolution genotype data for the SMART isolates as well as access to OpGen’s Lighthouse Portal to support internal R&D programs. OpGen’s Lighthouse Portal and Knowledgebase are designed in part to help provide tracking information for drug resistant pathogens in hospitals and health systems.

Lighthouse Portal and Knowledgebase are also designed, OpGen says, to promote antimicrobial stewardship—the paradigm defined by the Association for Professionals in
Infection Control and Epidemiology as combining appropriate use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials with reducing microbial resistance, reducing the spread of infections caused by multidrug-resistant organisms, and thus improving patient outcomes.

“This collaboration builds upon the promise of our DNA-based genetic tests, Lighthouse Knowledgebase, and antibiotic resistance decision-making tools to make a significant impact on hospital infections,” OpGen chairman and CEO Evan Jones said in a statement.

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