How Karius aims to transform the diagnosis of infections with a non-invasive liquid biopsy

The startup Karius aims to help establish a world where infectious disease is no longer a major threat to human health.

“It’s an audacious vision,” said Dr. Brad Perkins, chief medical officer at Karius. “But I think it’s commensurate with the platform we’ve developed and continue to evolve.”

The Redwood City, California-based company has developed Karius Test, a liquid biopsy for infectious diseases that can detect more than one thousand pathogens from a single blood draw.

Dr. Bradley Perkins [Image courtesy of Karius]

The test works by detecting microbial cell-free DNA (mcfDNA) in the bloodstream from likely pathogens causing an infection.

“If we can accelerate and improve diagnosis while making it safer, the notion is that clinicians will ultimately be better able to treat infectious diseases,” Perkins said.

Karius says its tech…

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The transformation of precision medicine in infectious disease

Phage image courtesy of Locus Biosciences

Before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, another more selective antibacterial agent rose to popularity in the early 1900s: bacteriophage.

In 1917, microbiologist Felix d’Herelle was tasked with identifying the cause of a dysentery outbreak impacting French troops. From his research, he noticed that Shigella bacteria was the primary culprit of this affliction. He then discovered an invisible microorganism that targeted and eliminated the dysentery bacillus, or rod-shaped bacteria, which he eventually named ‘bacteriophage’ (also known by the shorthand ‘phage’) for its supposed bacteria-eating capabilities. D’Herelle would later apply this knowledge to successfully treat children suffering from severe dysentery at the Hospital des Enfants Malades in Paris and create cures for other pathogens like cholera and typhoid. Encouraged by d’Herelle’s contributions and si…

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