US researchers develop rapid genetic test to detect antimicrobial resistance

  • Nelson MM, et al.
  • BMC Infectious Diseases
  • 12 Feb 2019

  • curated by Priscilla Lynch
  • Medical News
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US researchers have developed a new, highly sensitive, rapid genetic test to determine whether bacteria carries a resistant gene to two common antibiotics used to treat strep throat and other respiratory illnesses.

The researchers created and validated a novel Recombinase Polymerase Assay (RPA) assay for the detection of the Macrolide Efflux A (mef(A)) gene, an efflux pump rendering host bacteria resistant to 14- and 15-membered macrolide antibiotics (including erythromycin A and azithromycin).

In a study published in BMC Infectious Diseases, the scientists show that the assay, which detects mef(A) from raw lysates without nucleic acid purification, works as accurately as culture-based methods but gives results within ten minutes, as opposed to the current standard of hours or days.

"We simplified the process of detecting antimicrobial resistance so a physician can determine whether or not a patient will be resistant to a prescribed drug while that patient is still in the waiting room. We think this is a game-changer for treating common illnesses," said study co-author John R. Bracht.

The findings open the door to implementation of rapid genomic diagnostics in a clinical setting, while providing researchers a rapid, cost-effective tool to track antibiotic resistance in both pathogens and commensal strains, the study concludes.

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