Throughout history, human beings have fought against various bacteria. For example, in the 14th century, a plague called the “ Black Death ” swept Europe, and it is said that 25 million people, one-fourth to one-third of the total population, died in Europe alone.
In addition, many human lives have been endangered by many infectious diseases such as the Spanish flu and cholera. Many antibacterial drugs have been developed to overcome such bacteria, but “drug resistance”, in which certain types of antibacterial drugs become less effective or become ineffective, has become a major issue.
This time, we interviewed Mr. Masakazu Nakajima, CEO of CarbGen Co., Ltd., which aims to solve the problem of drug resistance using AI, about “BiTTE” that supports not only the problem of drug resistance but also the determination of bacterial species in diagnosis. did.
Table of contents
- Protecting humans from the threat of bacterial infections｜CarbGen
- 10 million dead by 2050? What is drug resistance that needs to be solved now?
- Upgrading the world’s medical care | The future that CurbGen aims for
Protecting humans from the threat of bacterial infections｜CarbGen
ーーPlease tell us about the business of CarbGen.
CarbGen is a company that aims to protect humanity from the threat of bacterial infections and aim to realize a safer world .
In addition to CurbGen, I also run a company called NexGen. NexGen is a bio-venture that deals with regenerative medicine, and is promoting the efficiency and acceleration of research and development activities through the fusion of biotechnology and digital technology.
During the development of various technologies, we received inquiries from doctors and researchers at clinical and research sites asking, “Can we achieve early diagnosis, which is required in the field?” We established CarbGen with the desire to solve problems by realizing early detection of diseases and improving treatment outcomes through early diagnosis and high precision using AI technology.
10 million dead by 2050? What is drug resistance that needs to be solved now?
ーーWhat is drug resistance? Antibiotic resistance is a problem in which “resistant bacteria”
that are resistant to antibiotics are created. The history of infectious diseases began with the plague in the 14th century, and we spent a long time without antibacterial drugs until the world’s first antibacterial drug “penicillin” was developed in the 1940s. After that, antibacterial drugs were developed every time an infectious disease spread.
As a result of overdosing and misusing antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria became ineffective after about 10 years, creating a cat-and-mouse situation. This is the problem of drug resistance that has been viewed as a problem for many years.
ーーWhat kind of problems are you currently facing?
As drug resistance progresses, antibiotics become ineffective when an infection develops.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that the number of deaths will exceed 10 million in 2050, and it is a problem that requires global countermeasures.
In addition, when medical instruments such as endoscopes are reused, they are sterilized.
ーーHow should I solve this?
It is said that it is important to prescribe the appropriate antibacterial drug according to the type of bacteria , without improper use of drugs, to prevent drug resistance .
Therefore, there is a need for accurate, rapid, and inexpensive identification of bacterial strains, and the services CarbGen has developed to solve this problem are “PoCGS” and “BiTTE . “
ーーCould you give us an overview of PoCGS
? PoCGS is hardware that automates “staining”.
Staining is the process of adding color to specimens such as urine and sputum for examination under a microscope.
At present, staining is laborious and time-consuming, and there is little time to do it, and the results vary depending on the examiner. In addition, automatic machines are large and expensive, so they are difficult to introduce in small hospitals and clinics.
Therefore, PoCGS was developed to realize automatic, inexpensive and standard staining. PoCGS realizes compact and easy staining, so we hope to contribute to solving problems related to staining.
ーーPlease give us an overview of BiTTE.
BiTTE is software that supports species estimation in diagnosis.
In the conventional method, after staining the specimen, a person observes it with a microscope, but there are problems such as the need for skilled techniques to distinguish the bacterial species and the fact that it takes several days to obtain results. .
In addition, the definitive test to determine the bacterial species requires expensive equipment, and the time required for culture tests, etc., is also seen as a problem.
Therefore, BiTTE has realized support for estimating bacterial species using smartphones by performing machine learning on stained images .
BiTTE connects a smartphone to the microscope, transfers the acquired images to the server, and performs image analysis to display the estimated bacterial species by percentage.
As with PoCGS, the point is that it can be performed inexpensively and instantly, and I hope that it will be able to support bacterial species identification at various sites.
In the future, we aim to achieve the same level of discrimination accuracy as the confirmation test for bacterial strains using stained images.
Upgrading the world’s medical care | The future that CurbGen aims for
ーーPlease tell us about the future prospects of CarbGen.
At CarbGen, the value we provide in the diagnostic field is “increase in accuracy”, “speed up”, and “cost reduction” , and we will continue to do our best in these areas. There is also Therefore, we will continue to develop not only software but also hardware such as PoCGS.
In addition, in terms of expanding versatility, we will expand the target samples for bacterial species testing and develop not only general-purpose bacteria but also rare bacteria and resistant bacteria.
As for the software, we are thinking of providing it in SaaS format, aiming for widespread use not only in Japan but also overseas, and hope to solve the problem of drug resistance worldwide.
This time, we interviewed Mr. Masakazu Nakajima, CEO of CarbGen Co., Ltd., which deals with drug resistance issues.
While there are many aspects of the field of bacteria that are not generally known to the general public, the lecture reaffirmed that, unlike the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), it is not a distant problem, and that we must have correct knowledge.
In Africa and emerging countries where the problem of infectious diseases is more serious, I think that such efforts will be a clue to solving the problem, so I will pay attention to the future of CarbGen Co., Ltd.!