New Test Rapidly Identifies Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs
A simple and inexpensive new test developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, can diagnose patients with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in a matter of minutes. The technique could help doctors prescribe the right class of antibiotics for each infection, and could help limit the spread of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that kill as many as 700,000 people worldwide each year.
“Health organizations around the world are supporting the development of tools that specifically identify pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics because there are limited tests available that can do it quickly,” said Tara deBoer, a postdoctoral fellow in the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley. “Our test is simple and gives us information on a short timescale.”
The test, dubbed DETECT, spots the molecular signatures of antibiotic-resistant bacteria directly in urine samples. Unlike other techniques that are currently on the market, DETECT does not require expensive instrumentation and is simple enough to be applied in a point-of-care setting.
“In theory, DETECT will allow you to diagnose antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in a doctor’s office just by collecting urine and mixing it with the DETECT reagents,” said Niren Murthy, a professor of engineering at Berkeley.
“Drug-resistant infections are a silent pandemic that actually kill more people every year than Zika or Ebola,” said Lee Riley, professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. “The faster you can start the right drug, the better the chances of survival or avoiding complications.”
The study, which was conducted as part of the Consortium for Research on Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria (CRARB) that includes Berkeley researchers in the College of Engineering and the School of Public Health, appears on the Oct. 18 cover of the journal ChemBioChem.
Source: Infection Control TodaySmart Innovations