The prevalence of antibiotic resistance is increasing worldwide and threatens the ability to treat many common infectious diseases.
Until now, identifying resistance to antibiotics required a test that lasted one or two days. However, a technique that measures the metabolic activity of bacteria with an electrical probe can identify antibiotic resistance in less than 90 minutes .
This discovery means that doctors could quickly find out which antibiotics will or won’t work for a patient’s life-threatening infection.
The idea here is to give clinicians results much faster so that they can make clinically appropriate decisions within that time frame in which they are working, rather than having to wait, as the researchers in this study have pointed out, to Washington State University:
Instead of looking for the growth of a culture, we look for the metabolism, and that is basically what we are detecting by the movement of these electrons, so it can happen in much shorter periods of time compared to a conventional culture-based assay. .
In their trial, the WSU team used a probe to directly measure the bacteria’s electrochemical signal, thus measuring their metabolism and respiration and learning how they were doing long before they were visible in culture. By looking at eight different strains of bacteria, the researchers were able to use the electrical signal from the bacteria to determine in less than 90 minutes which ones were susceptible or resistant to antibiotics. Bacteria that are still metabolized and "breathed" after antibiotic treatment are considered resistant .
The researchers tested four different bacterial species that cause hospital-acquired infections and tested a variety of antibiotics that work through different mechanisms. They also developed an antibiotic susceptibility index to categorize the results in a way that could help clinicians decide which antibiotic to use . The researchers now plan to design their probe to be convenient and standardized for doctors to use and hope to market.