Scientists from Uppsala University, the Science for Life Laboratory (SciLifeLab) in Stockholm and Uppsala University Hospital have developed a new method of rapidly identifying which bacteria are causing an infection and determining whether they are resistant or sensitive to antibiotics. The findings are now being published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
‘Clinical use of the method would mean that the right antibiotic treatment could be started straightaway, reducing unnecessary use of antibiotics,’ says Professor Dan I. Andersson of Uppsala University, who headed the study jointly with Professor Mats Nilsson of SciLifeLab in Stockholm and Stockholm University.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing medical problem that threatens human health all over the world. Today, many people are dying because of infections caused by resistant bacteria. When an infected person is treated with antibiotics, ‘empirical therapy’ is usually provided. This means that the choice of antibiotic is based on the resistance situation of the bacteria in a large population (such as the Swedish population), rather than on the resistance, if any, of the bacteria in the infected person’s body. The result is sometimes selection of an antibiotic drug that is ineffective against the bacteria concerned, because the latter is resistant to the drug chosen.
Professor Andersson continued: “This is just what we’ve been working on in our study. We have developed a new method that permits identification of both the species and the resistance pattern of bacteria in urinary infections in less than four hours. By comparison, the resistance determination done at present takes one to two days.”