Patients presenting with a bacterial infection can be surprisingly challenging to treat if drug resistance is present and/or if sepsis develops. Using the right antibiotic as early as possible, and identifying if the infection is resistant to the drugs, can often make the difference between life and death. Yet, the time it takes currently to match the pathogen to the optimal antibiotic regiment is often longer than it takes the pathogen to conquer its victim.
Now researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology, working with a number of partner groups, has developed a device that can identify the invading bacteria and which antibiotic to use within only nine hours. This is a significant achievement, as the speedy timeframe for the results to come in should be within most therapeutic windows when treatment is most effective.
The device, which is small enough to be a bench-top lab tool, consists of components that culture the bacteria, separate it, and identify it using qPCR, and it includes a special chamber where 96 vials contain a combination of the pathogen, nutrients, and an antibiotic. Each vial is closely monitored using video microscopy and changes in the growth pattern of the bacteria can be discerned from the images. By detecting which vials slow down the pathogens growth the most and least, the system points to which antibiotics work and which don’t, respectively.