MolecuLight's Handheld Device Instantly Detect Bacteria In Wounds And Measure Healing

MolecuLight's Handheld Device Instantly Detect Bacteria In Wounds And Measure Healing
Wound infections continues to be a challenging problem and represents a considerable healthcare burden. Although it’s inevitable that most wounds contain micro-organism, sometimes these organisms, particularly bacteria, invade and damage tissue, delay healing and occasionally cause systemic illness. Early recognition along with prompt, appropriate and effective intervention are more important than ever to reduce wound infections’ economic and health consequences, especially in the context of growing resistance to antibiotics. However, traditionally, wound infection is diagnosed by visual inspection and microbiological sampling, which are subjective and suboptimal, delaying diagnosis and treatment.

The Toronto-based startup MolecuLight is determined to fight wound infections and accelerate healing. They have developed an optical imaging platform to instantly detect, visualize and analyze different biomarkers of interest in wounds, including bacteria and collagen. The handheld device, known as MolecuLight i:X, is portable, non-contact and requires no additional contrast agents to highlight bacterial load. While invisible to the naked eye, tissues and microbes emit intrinsic fluorescence signals, and when the device is positioned above the wound it can detect and analyze those fluorescence signals by scanning them with a specific wavelength of light. The resulting high resolution images on the device’s touch screen make the bacteria visible instantly in and around the wound, enabling clinicians to quickly assess, sample and treat wounds more effectively. In addition, the device allow clinicians to record videos to enable them to inspect larger wounds as effectively as smaller.

Research has suggested the technology is effective. In fact, a study to measure wound area and evaluate the rate of wound closure in patients with lower-extremity chronic wounds was conducted at a treatment center in Toronto. The study showed impressive results, with wound healing estimated to be 9 times faster using the MolecuLight i:X compared to standard of care, and an 89% cost saving.

Wound infections represent a significant burden to patients, healthcare professionals and healthcare systems. Despite optimal treatment some wounds are slow to heal. Often it is the sheer density of bacteria in a wound that creates a physical barrier, interfering with components involved in the healing process and preventing wound closure. MolecuLight has developed an innovative technology that can instantly diagnose whether it is bacteria that is causing problems, so that appropriate targeted treatments can be put in place quickly. By assessing bacterial load and distinguishing between different bacterial strains, MolecuLight i:X could limit the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, which is commonly given to patients as a preventative measure and a contributor to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Using the portable, handheld device, clinicians are given real-time visual information at the point of care that can help guide wound sampling or removal of damaged tissue. Most importantly, the device objectively determine the presence or severity of bacteria in wounds, enabling early interventions to promote wound healing while decreasing wound care costs. It could play a major role in the ongoing fight against chronic wounds and wound infections, significantly improving health outcomes for millions around the world.

MolecuLight was founded in 2012 by University Health Network Scientist Ralph DaCosta, and is located in Toronto’s MaRS Centre. The startup has raised $4 million from iGan Partners, as well as $990,000 from FedDev Ontario to complete commercialization of the MolecuLight i:X technology, and received CE mark and Health Canada approval. The innovative technology has received much attention, and DaCosta has won UHN Inventor Of The Year, and the startup was ranked in the Top 6 at the 2016 Medical Design Excellence Awards. In 2017 they announced they had signed an exclusive distribution agreement with global wound care leader Smith &Nephew.