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Cepheid Forms Pharma Alliance to Fight Antibiotic Resistance

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Cepheid (CPHD) formed a partnership with leading pharmaceutical companies – AstraZeneca PLC (AZN), Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (CBST) and GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) to revolutionize infectious disease therapy through the development of a rapid diagnostic test that can target multi-drug resistant bacteria and support the proper use of antibiotics.

The collaboration of Cepheid is aimed at identification of the right treatment method that can target bacterial infections to subside the development of resistance. Recognizing the need to arrest the crisis of antibiotic resistance, the consortium has focused its attention on Xpert Carba-R as the much-desired diagnostic test.

Following the news, Cepheid's share price rose 1.4% to eventually close at $47.78 on Friday.

Some Statistics

According to a 2013 report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.V), almost 50% of all prescribed antimicrobial agents are unnecessary or ineffective.  This has induced the evolution of multiple species of bacteria that have become resistant to many, and in some cases, all of the antimicrobial agents used for bacterial infection therapy.  

In the U.S. alone, more than 2 million people each year contract serious bacterial infections that are resistant to one or more of the antimicrobial agents used for treatment.

What is Xpert Carba-R?

Xpert Carba-R is a molecular test used for rapid and accurate detection of carbapenemase-producing (resistant) gram-negative bacteria. It uses rectal swab samples to identify the presence of potentially life threatening bacteria in an individual.

At present, this diagnostic test is under development in the U.S. but is commercially available outside the U.S. It is set for a commercial release in the U.S. in 2015, subject to regulatory approval.

Right now, the consortium is engaged in expanding the number of body sample types from rectal swabs to other body samples such as respiratory samples taken from pneumonia patients.

Recently, Cepheid released Xpert Carba-R diagnostic test in Europe, to be marketed as a CE IVD product under the European Directive on In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Devices. The test runs on Cepheid's GeneXpert System, the world's leading molecular diagnostic platform.

This diagnostic test can detect patients carrying carbapenemase-producing microorganisms in less than one hour. Fast and accurate identification will help physicians control the spread of infection in patients more effectively by prescribing suitable antibiotics.

Management of Cepheid and other three healthcare organizations are of the opinion that such a rapid diagnostic test will facilitate the development of a new pipeline of pathogen-targeted antibacterials, the administration of the right drug to the concerned patient and lesser clinical trial complications.

Currently, Cepheid, AstraZeneca, Cubist and GlaxoSmithKline, all carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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