Rapid method for determining antibiotic resistance developed

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London, Aug 9 (IANS) Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have developed a new method for very rapidly determining whether infection-causing bacteria are resistant or susceptible to antibiotics.

While the test is primarily intended for urinary tract infections — a condition that, globally, affects approximately 100 million women a year — researchers believe the method could be usable for other types of infection, such as blood infections where prompt, correct choice of antibiotic is critical to the patient.

“We’ve developed a new method that 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,” said PhD student Ozden Baltekin, who performed most of the experimental work of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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 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.

The new rapid test could enable a patient to take the right antibiotic home from the health centre straight after the first appointment.

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 or not reveals their resistance or susceptibility within a few minutes.

“It’s great that the research methods we developed to address fundamental questions in molecular biology can come in useful for such a tremendously important medical application,” said Johan Elf, one of the researchers behind the study.

“The hope is that, in future, the method could be used in hospitals and health centres to quickly provide correct treatment and reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics,” Dan Andersson, who was also involved in the research, said.

–IANS

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