Ultrafast test for antibiotic susceptibility through single-cell imaging

Published: 2017-08-10


A new study led by Johan Elf (Uppsala university/SciLifeLab) demonstrates that it is possible to determine in 30 minutes if a urinary tract infection is caused by antibiotics-resistant bacteria. Tailoring treatment against bacterial infections can help reduce unnecessary and incorrect use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, which aggravates the antibiotics resistance problem and poses a global threat to human health. 

One way to provide correct treatment and slow down the development of antibiotic resistance is to assay the susceptibility profile of the infecting bacteria before treatment is initiated and let this information guide the choice of antibiotic. The current paper, published in PNAS, presents an antibiotic susceptibility test that is sufficiently fast to be used at the point of care.

The rapid test is based on a new plastic microfluidic chip where bacteria from a urine sample are trapped and methods for analysing their growth at single-cell level. The 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.

Urinary tract infections is a condition that, globally, affects approximately 100 million women a year and accounts for 25 percent of the antibiotic use in Sweden.

 

Read the press release by Uppsala University