New technique identifies pathogens in patient samples faster, in great detail

December 2, 2013

A team of Danish investigators has shown how to identify pathogens faster, directly from clinical samples. The research, published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology appears in the journal's January 2014 issue.

The investigators used a technique known as whole genome sequencing to identify and completely characterize bacteria causing . In just 18 hours, they identified the culprit microorganisms, characterized the pathogens' patterns of antibiotic susceptibility, and identified specific strains.

"Using conventional methodologies this would have taken several days to weeks, and even using on cultured bacteria would have taken an extra day," says Frank M. Aarestrup of the Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, an author on the study.

Their work will help heal more quickly and avoid unnecessarily prolonged illness and even death. It will also help prevent outbreaks of hospital-acquired disease, and identify emerging infections.

"Rapid identification of the causative agent, and of any is crucial to choosing the correct treatment for individual patients," says Aarestrup. "Choosing the wrong antibiotic will lead to longer infections and in the worst case, deaths."

The investigators also identified bacteria in the patient samples that they did not detect using conventional techniques. "Lactobacillus iners, Gardnerella vaginalis, Prevotella, and A. urinae have all been implicated in [urinary tract infections], even though their precise roles as pathogens and normal colonizers of the genital tract have not been firmly established," write the researchers. They note that by conventional methods A. urinae is rarely identified but frequently misclassified.

The ability to identify strains in patients with repeated infections enables the doctor to know whether the patient's infection is new, or recurrent. And the typing of bacterial strains enables rapid comparison of bacteria from different patients, so that doctors can detect the spread of infections within the hospital, and identify emerging infections.

"Whole may still be too expensive for routine use in most clinical microbial laboratories," the researchers write. But they predict that rapidly falling prices and automation will render it a standard technology for infection detection and control, in and out of the hospital.

Explore further: Could adaptable bacteria cause repeat urinary tract infections?

More information: www.asm.org/images/Communications/tips/2013/1113wholegenome.pdf

Related Stories

Getting better without antibiotics

May 30, 2013

Given the option, many women with symptoms of urinary tract infections are choosing to avoid antibiotics and give their bodies a chance to heal naturally, finds research in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Family ...

Battle against resistant bacteria takes huge leap forward

November 8, 2013

In the past it could take several hours for doctors to find out which antibiotic a patient should be treated with for a particular infection. Using a new technique developed in close collaboration of Aarhus University with ...

Recommended for you

In sub-Saharan Africa, cancer can be an infectious disease

August 26, 2016

In 1963, Irish surgeon Denis Parson Burkitt airmailed samples of an unusual jaw tumor found in Ugandan children to his colleague, Anthony Epstein, at Middlesex Hospital in London. Epstein, an expert in chicken viruses and ...

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

Team discovers how Zika virus causes fetal brain damage

August 24, 2016

Infection by the Zika virus diverts a key protein necessary for neural cell division in the developing human fetus, thereby causing the birth defect microcephaly, a team of Yale scientists reported Aug. 24 in the journal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.