Location: United States
Karius is advancing infectious disease diagnostics by applying gene analysis. The information can be used to diagnose and treat time-sensitive diseases quickly.
In the USA, pneumonia is the 2nd most common cause of hospitalisation (childbirth being the first). As with pneumonia and other infections, they can be caused by a variety of different microbes – These are the tiny living things that cause the disease. Knowing which one is causing the infection is essential for ensuring the infection can be resolved.
However, testing for the cause can sometimes be a difficult, time-consuming, and an invasive process. Traditional blood tests which culture the microbe over days can be inaccurate or easily contaminated and must be taken before any treatment is started.
Karius has developed an accurate test that only requires a single blood draw. They apply the concept of genomics to infections to understand what exactly is happening. The specimen is shipped to their lab, and results are usually available the next day. They process the sample to remove as much of the human DNA as possible and then use artificial intelligence to process the DNA from the microbe.
From that, they can identify which bacteria, virus, parasite or fungi is causing the infection. Knowing what is causing the infection means doctors can more accurately target the cause with an effective antibiotic or anti-viral treatment, for example. At present, the test is focused on lung and heart infections, and infections that affect those with a lowered immune system.