The overuse of antibiotics has created numerous strains of multi-drug resistant bacteria. This issue is of particular concern in hospital settings where patients tend to have vulnerable immune systems. The CDC estimates that hospital acquired infection (HAI) costs exceed $10B annually.
Universal screening of patients would be ideal – however, this is currently not feasible with existing bacterial culture-based test methods which are slow and expensive.
Assuming a simple, low cost (~$10-20) test can be developed to screen for infections – every hospital patient in the US could be tested at a total annual cost of approximately $300M. According to the CDC, this level of testing could reduce HAI cases by approximately 50% - resulting in annual savings of several billion dollars.
Tinoro has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with UCSD to develop a novel, non-thermal technology that uses electric fields to alter the pH distribution within a PCR solution. Cycling the pH level of the solution between nominal and more extreme values essentially has the same effect as traditional thermal cycling - except that it takes place on a much faster timescale.
The technology allows for a much lower device cost (an order of magnitude less than typical PCR instruments) because there is no need for bulky and expensive temperature control hardware. The cost per test is also relatively inexpensive since the technology enables the use of a very simple single-use consumable. In addition, because the power levels required to trigger the pH changes are relatively low, the technology is compatible with a hand-held, battery operated device design.