Researchers in California have greatly improved the speed of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria detection test.
The test is able to identify these types of bacteria in as little as half an hour and assist healthcare professionals in deciding which antibiotics to use to treat an infection. Doctors commonly use second-line instead of first-line antibiotics, which although is more likely to treat the infection, also leads to the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
A California Institute of Technology graduate, Nathan Schoepp, who was a co-author of the study, said:“Right now, we’re overprescribing, so we are seeing resistance much sooner than we have to for a lot of the antibiotics that we would otherwise want to preserve for more serious situations.”
The researchers aimed to develop a test the could be completed during a single visit to the doctor. They focused on one common infection – urinary tract infections (UTIs). The test works by collecting a urine sample from a UTI patient, which is then divided into two parts. One sample is exposed to an antibiotic for 15 minutes, while the other incubates without antibiotics before the bacteria from each sample are lysed to release their cellular content.
The cellular contents were then exposed to a process that combines digital real-time loop-mediated isothermal application (dLAMP) with a device called a Slip Chip – a prior invention of he Caltech scientists. This unique combination replaced specific DNA markers, allowing them to be imaged and then counted as discrete fluorescent spots appearing on the chip. Non-antibiotic-resistant bacteria will replicate DNA less efficiently, allowing for a visible difference between the two samples.
In the future, it is hoped that similar tests can be conducted with other types of bacterial infections to observe its performance. There are also plans to move into testing blood samples.
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