MeMed Ltd., a Haifa-based firm that develops tests to monitor the body’s immune state, said Wednesday that it received a $9.2 million contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), a branch of the US Department of Defense (DoD). The funds will help MeMed complete the development of its bedside device to help distinguish bacterial from viral infections, the Israeli firm said.

Eran Eden, the CEO of MeMed, said the contract was a “vote of confidence” from DTRA, and a recognition of the company’s work that “further positions MeMed as a world leader in immune-based diagnostics of infectious diseases,” he said. “This joint effort, and our growing collaboration with other international stakeholders from industry and government, will facilitate the global availability of our tests aimed at combating antimicrobial resistance.”

In the past eight years, Eden and company co-founder Kfir Oved have collaborated with researchers and clinicians from around the globe to study the changes that take place in the human immune system when it is fighting infections.

By conducting extensive screening of immune system proteins in patients with acute infections, MeMed researchers were able to identify three soluble proteins that are uniquely activated by bacteria or viruses. They then developed proprietary algorithms that integrate these proteins to produce an “immune signature,” a set of data that accurately identifies the cause of infection.

Its first-generation test, ImmunoXpert, is already in use and has demonstrated the ability to accurately detect whether a patient has a bacterial or viral infection, with the aim of enabling physicians to make better-informed antibiotic treatment decisions, the company said in a statement. ImmunoXpert is cleared for clinical use in the European Union, Switzerland and Israel. It is currently in pilot distribution in these territories with a broader commercial roll-out underway.

MeMed’s second-generation test involves the development of a device that takes only 15 minutes and can be used outside of medical labs, at the patient’s bedside or place of treatment.

“This collaboration will allow us to expedite completion of our point of care platform program,” said Oved, MeMed’s chief technology officer. “In addition to allowing measurements of our bacterial versus viral test within minutes, the new platform also opens the way to a variety of rapid multiplex-protein measurements at the point of care with lab-quality precision, which has broad applications.”

The project will also be geared to detect early infections, even at the pre-symptomatic stage of a disease, something that is still a major challenge in the ability to control infections and epidemics, the company said.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) was founded in 1998 to integrate the activities of the Department of Defense that address the threat of weapons of mass destruction.