The fight against antibiotic resistance gets 'fASTest' weapon
Washington D.C. [USA], Aug 9 : A research team has come up with a way to rapidly determine whether infection-causing bacteria are resistant or susceptible to antibiotics.Antibiotic resistance is a growing medical problem that threatens human health globally. One important contributory factor in the development of resistance is the incorrect use of antibiotics for treatment. Reliable methods to quickly and easily identify bacterial resistance patterns (Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing, AST) and provide the proper treatment from the start, i.e. right from the doctor's appointment, are a solution to the problem. This has not been possible because existing antibiotic resistance tests take too long.
Developed by the Uppsala University researchers, the antibiotic resistance test is fast enough to enable a patient to take the right antibiotic home from the health centre straight after the first appointment.
The test is primarily intended for urinary tract infections - a condition that, globally, affects approximately 100 million women a year and accounts for 25 per cent of antibiotic use in Sweden.
Researcher Özden Baltekin said that the new method allows determination of bacterial resistance patterns in urinary tract infections in 10 to 30 minutes. By comparison, the resistance determination currently in use requires one to two days.
"The rapid test is based on a new plastic microfluidic chip where the bacteria are trapped and methods for analysing bacterial growth at single-cell level," Baltekin added.
The 'fASTest' method is based on sensitive optical and analytical techniques developed to study the behaviour of individual bacteria. Monitoring whether individual bacteria grow in the presence of antibiotics (i.e. are resistant) or not (are susceptible) reveals their resistance or susceptibility within a few minutes.
The detection method is now being developed by an Uppsala company, Astrego Diagnostics AB, into a user-friendly product. The company expects to have an automated test for urinary tract infections within a few years.
The findings are published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).