Connie Ryan watched from a distance as infectious disease physicians tried to identify how to treat her grandson’s pneumonia. The boy had contracted a rare strain that attacked his lungs, which left physicians scrambling to find an effective antibiotic to treat it.
In the end, her grandson, John, was treated unsuccessfully with two antibiotics before his physicians picked the right one.
She learned that physicians sometimes have to select the antibiotic they think will work best because some strains of bacteria have become resistant to treatment.
“Physicians take what works most of the time,” she said. “If that antibiotic doesn’t work, you give something else, then something else.”
Her grandson was allergic to the second antibiotic, she said, which left the boy with a swollen face and fingers. He was placed in isolation for seven days.
“You feel so helpless to do anything about it,” Ryan said. “You’re hoping the next one works.”
It turns out there was something Ryan, CEO of Streck, could do. Streck, the La Vista-based biotech company, already had begun to explore the feasibility of developing an antibiotic resistance and monitoring kit before the need hit home.
Matt Kreifels, vice president of sales, had proposed the project to Streck’s leadership. He had taken a class from Nancy Hanson, a Creighton University researcher, and learned about her groundbreaking work on molecular diagnostics for antibiotic resistance.
Kreifels used the same words to describe how he felt when his son fell ill. “Watching your own child go through an infection like that — you’re pretty much helpless.”
With John on the mend, mother and son had a candid conversation. “She asked whether Dr. Hanson’s research could have meant a quicker turnaround in John’s treatment – or at least could have provided guidance.”
It could, he told her.
Four years and a battery of tests, evaluations and quality-control checks later, the ARM-D Kit RUO was ready for use.
“It was definitely exciting to play a role in bringing this product to market.”