The UC San Diego biologists say their new method has the potential to be applied to many different types of bacteria. “Our new method worked surprising well at rapidly detecting antibiotic resistant strains of S. aureus,” said Diana Quach, a graduate student and lead author on the study. “We are now optimizing it to provide a more accurate test for other types of antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.”
Examining single cells has two key advantages over other testing methods, say the researchers. First, it is rapid, cutting days off the time for typical culture-based assays. It often takes days for a doctor to receive information on resistance, and this means that patients with life-threatening infections are often treated with the assumption that the infection is drug-resistant. Second, this method does not rely on having any detailed understanding of the bacterium causing the infection, or of the genes that convey resistance. This is particularly important in this case, since resistance to the drugs used to treat MRSA infections arise by several evolutionary pathways via different combinations of mutations, and it could also provide rapid treatment information for newly emerging bacterial pathogens, such as that which caused the infections transmitted by endoscopes.
Biologists Develop Method for Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing