The Sunday Telegraph
Super-fast test to select right antibiotic is likely lifesaver
BRITISH researchers have pioneered a test that can cut the time it takes to identify the right antibiotic treatment from three days to four hours, potentially saving thousands of lives.
The technology ensures that patients with bacterial infections receive the correct antibiotic on day one of treatment, helping to save some of the 1.3 million lives lost globally every year because of antibiotic resistance.
If not treated quickly and effectively, bacterial infections can lead to complications such as sepsis – poisoning of the blood – which accounts for around 50,000 deaths in the UK every year.
Regular testing can take 48 to 72 hours. In that time, patients may be prescribed an antibiotic that does not work. The Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance report estimated the resistance led to 1.27 million deaths in 2019.
Experts at the University of Southampton have created a device that enables the identification of antibiotic resistance in four hours. It involves growing a sample of bacteria from a patient in a laboratory in the presence of an antibiotic, before a device called an iFAST measures the electrical signals of bacteria in 30 seconds to identify any damage to the bacteria’s outer cell wall.
The test was developed by Hywel Morgan, professor of bioelectronics, and Dr Daniel Spencer, a specialist in biomedical electronic engineering, both of the University of Southampton.
It is part of a £1 million laboratory trial funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research and led by the UK Health Security Agency.