JAN 24, 2016 05:24 PM PST

Rapid Antibiotic Susceptibility Test Fast Tracks Treatment

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
Researchers at UC San Diego are perfecting a new technique to determine antibiotic susceptibility.  

Time is of the essence where bacterial infections are involved.  The sooner a clinician knows what antibiotic will kill the infecting bacteria, the sooner a patient can begin treatment.  Current diagnostics require clinical labs to culture bacteria - a process that can take days.  The new approach, however, gives results in just hours.
 
UC San Diego researchers developed a new antibiotic susceptibility test.

The approach is pretty straightforward - hit the bacteria with different antibiotics and take a look at them under the microscope.  According to study author Joe Pogliano, “a healthy and growing bacterium looks different from a dead bacterium, so whenever we detect a difference in how the cells look, we know that the bacterium is sensitive to the antibiotic we have applied. When we combine careful culture conditions, cutting edge imaging methods and a detailed quantitative analysis, we can turn this simple approach into a reliable test”.

This method is adapted from one that the Pogliano lab uses to identify novel antibiotics.  According to Kit Pogliano, “previously we developed a microscopy-based method that performs an autopsy on bacterial cells that allows us to determine how each cell died, and we have shown that this method can identify new antibiotics and help understand how these antibiotics work”.  

The new technique is being developed for commercial use by Linnaeus Bioscience Inc., so it may not be long before this test finds its way to a hospital near you.

Source: UC San Diego
 
About the Author
  • Kerry received a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
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