Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common indications for antibiotic use. While the majority of UTIs are mild, there are cases in which the infection spreads to the upper urinary tract, kidneys, or even bloodstream, the latter of which may be fatal. In such cases, timely and accurate antibiotic treatment is imperative. However, standard bacterial culturing requires two days to grow the bacteria and test their antibiotic susceptibility. Accordingly, broad spectrum antibiotics are often prescribed, increasing the probability of over-treatment and antibiotic resistance.
Diagnosing and treating UTIs may now be faster and more efficient thanks to the novel application of a device called Nanopore MinION from Oxford Nanopore Technologies (Oxford, UK), which is a small, portable DNA nanopore sequencer. MinION enables rapid point-of-care bacterial characterization from urine samples four times faster than conventional laboratory culturing methods, as well as detection of antibiotic resistance. Researchers from the University of East Anglia found that the device detected and provided the DNA sequence of bacteria in heavily infected urine within 12 hours. Bacterial identification and sequencing data of bacterial resistance genes matched the results of conventional laboratory cultures and tests.
This work represents important progress in the rapid identification of bacteria and appropriate treatment guidance for difficult cases of UTIs that involve heavily-infected urine and require timely diagnosis and treatment. Future work will focus on refining the technique for milder infections as well.
Source: University of East Anglia