Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) are the most prevalent human infection with about 100 million tests per year worldwide, and costs of over $3 billion. Nearly two-thirds of all microbiological samples processed in hospital microbiology labs are urine specimens being tested for bacteria, a process that requires highly skilled technicians, and can take several days to obtain results. UTIs from urinary catheters are also a common and expensive hospital-acquired infection, and healthcare providers are actively looking for cost-effective ways to detect and treat these infections early before they complicate patient care.
BacterioScan, Inc. is a St. Louis based company that has developed a new technology for detecting bacteria in urine. A laser is transmitted through a small volume of sample held in a disposable container, and a camera measures the amount of laser light scattered as it bounces through the bacteria. The sample is warmed to promote growth of the bacteria, and within about 90 minutes the instrument determines if the urine has an infection present at a level of sensitivity and accuracy that is higher than the lab’s current standard of media plating. BacterioScan’s instrument is a small tabletop box, and operation is simple, requiring minimal training.
Missouri Enterprise has been working with BacterioScan since 2012, almost from the company’s beginning. Working closely with the company’s founders, Missouri Enterprise conducted the engineering development and design of several versions of the instrument. The design process took an initial test bed that was the size of a large suitcase and refined it, ending up with a design the size of an X-box console.
The Missouri Enterprise product development team has also designed numerous accessories and supplemental parts used with the device. These include the disposable sample cuvettes used to hold the urine during the testing, device mounting/hanging brackets and several types of assembly tooling.
When Missouri Enterprise began working with BacterioScan, the company had 3 employees. The company now has a staff of over 20 with engineering, marketing, sales and assembly. The instrument is being used around the world for testing and research, and the medical version for UTI diagnosis was introduced to the US hospital market in May of this year. This product is being offered through a major US distributor,and will be in use in hospitals and doctors’ offices worldwide soon. The design won the 2015 Prism award presented by the SPIE for innovation in photonic technologies, and the Medical Design Excellence Award for innovation in medical diagnostics. Missouri Enterprise’s work with BacterioScan continues on an ongoing basis, helping them solve challenges through development of new parts and accessories.