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NIST's Sensor Technique Provides Faster Testing for Antibiotic Susceptibility

OCT 05, 2017 | EINAV KEET
Contagion® spoke about the study with senior author and NIST physicist Ward L. Johnson, PhD, who explained that the research was aimed at solving physicians’ needs to quickly choose the right antibiotic when writing prescriptions for patients, properly treat patients, and practice antibiotic stewardship. “However, it is often impossible for physicians to achieve the goal of responsible antibiotic use while protecting the health of a patient, because of a lack of timely information on the efficacy of antibiotics in treating a specific infection,” said Dr. Ward.  “This untenable situation is driving efforts to develop rapid methods for antimicrobial susceptibility testing, such as our work.”

Although much additional research is needed on the new sensor before it can be developed for use in a clinical setting, Dr. Johnson sees a potential for the use of his tool alongside others, such as a rapid diagnostic device, to help doctors quickly diagnose and treat patients. “Advanced DNA/RNA-based technologies can identify microbes quickly but cannot directly determine antibiotic efficacy and, therefore, are limited in their ability to determine effective antibiotics for bacterial strains with new resistance mechanisms,” explained Dr. Johnson. “We envision that these technologies could be employed in tandem with our sensing approach to identify newly resistant strains.”

The timing could not be more appropriate, as, in the United States alone, an estimated 2 million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, resulting in at least 23,000 deaths. If physicians are eventually able to rapidly detect the pathogen at the point-of-care, and determine the most appropriate treatment, patients will be administered the most effective antibiotic for their infection, thus aiding in decreasing growing resistance.
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