One-hour test for antibiotic resistance developed
When someone with a bacterial infection presents themselves, the treating doctor should first test which antibiotics will work for that particular patient — a process that currently takes anywhere between eight and 12 hours. Researchers from University Colleges Leuven-Limburg (UCLL) and Occhio, an expert in precision instruments, have now developed a device that can determine antibiotic resistance in as little as one hour.
To maintain the efficacy of antibiotics, they must be used correctly and only when needed. The more they are used, the more likely bacteria will become resistant and the drug will eventually become ineffective.
“Currently, the treating physician administers them out of necessity because it is often impossible to wait to treat the infection,” said UCLL project leader Maarten Hendrickx. “This administration can, in turn, promote resistance to this broad range of antibiotics, resulting in fewer treatment options for the patient. So every hour you gain in this process is profit.”
The Sustainable Resources expertise centre at UCLL Research & Expertise created a fully automatic device to detect antibiotic resistance in collaboration with Occhio. The Fast Antibiotic Susceptibility Test (FAST) is designed to quickly and accurately determine which antibiotics are already resistant, meaning doctors will be able to find out up to 10 times faster which antibiotics can still affect their patients and which cannot. With quick access to test results, the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics will be able to be reduced in many cases.
“A faster determination is not only important for the patient, but in the fight against antibiotic resistance it will make a big difference for all of us in the long run,” Hendrickx noted.
UCLL and Occhio’s research into a faster antibiotic resistance test started four years ago; today their test is outperforming even the most recent competing devices, according to Occhio CEO Christian Godino. “These [competing devices] often need about eight to 12 hours to deliver a test result, while the new partnership generates a result from the state-of-the-art device as early as one hour,” Godino said.
Concrete steps are now being taken to implement the device in research and clinical laboratories of hospitals. UCLL Research & Expertise is providing further development of the device and the necessary training to work with the devices from its Sustainable Resources expertise centre, while Occhio takes care of the distribution of the devices and technical support for the end customer.
“This unique collaboration between our research group and an SME such as Occhio ensures that research results can quickly find their application in research and clinical laboratories,” Hendrickx said.
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