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U of Maryland-Baltimore start-up is developing a “barcode” system to identify infections

By David Schwartz
Published: December 23rd, 2015

A University of Maryland-Baltimore (UMB) start-up is developing a way to more quickly identify infections by employing a “barcode” for each pathogen strain.

Doctors have to act fast when fighting infections; sometimes even before they know what the infection actually is. “It takes days to find out what infection somebody has, and even longer to find out susceptibility,” says Erik Nilsson of UMB start-up Pataigin.

Based on research from company co-founders and UMB faculty members Robert Ernst and David Goodlett, Pataigin has created a library composed of unique lipids that appear on the outer membranes of disease-causing agents. The idea is to be able to refer to this library of disease “barcodes” to identify infections more efficiently.

“We see the potential here for a diagnostic that can ultimately be effective enough for routine clinical use for appropriate patients that is going to offer superior performance capability to what people get now,” says Nilsson.

Pataigin has licensed the technology through UM Ventures, the university’s tech transfer office. The agreement provides the company with exclusive rights to the “barcode” system. According to UM Ventures’ Phil Robilotto, it is the tenth such deal his office has completed since October 2014. “This is our sixth in the last six months,” he says, calling it “a big shift for us.”


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