10.09.2018 change 10.09.2018

System developed at the University of Warsaw will help select an antibiotic for the patient

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Researchers at the University of Warsaw have developed a system to detect genes that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics. They plan to make the system available to physicians so that they can quickly determine which types of antibiotics will most effectively help a particular patient, and which should be avoided.

The system detecting antibiotic resistance genes in environmental samples and clinical material has been developed by PhD students from the Department of Bacterial Genetics at the Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw - Mikołaj Dziurzyński, Przemysław Decewicz and Adrian Górecki.

What does this mean in practice? "Providing quick and reliable results and cost-effective, the system will provide doctors with information on the antibacterial drug that should be used in a given case for a particular patient, without the risk that the antibiotic will not work" - the project representatives inform in a press release.

The invention also allows to test food products for the presence of drug-resistant bacteria and monitor the spread of resistance genes in various environments.

The idea of doctoral students from the University of Warsaw uses PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) - a method that is simple and widely used in molecular biology. It allows to quickly check if a given DNA sequence is present in the bacteria. Detection of individual genes, including those that determine resistance to antibiotics, requires designing an appropriate set of reagents called PCR primers.

"We have created software that allows to quickly select these reagents so that the obtained information is reliable. We eliminate false negative and false positive results, making sure that we get the right gene" - says Mikołaj Dziurzyński, quoted in the release.

Compared to the classic antibiogram, the new invention returns the result 10 times faster. "PCR analysis takes about 2 hours and can be done locally, in most hospitals. The genetic test, unlike the traditional antibiogram, is not limited to cultured bacteria strains that make up an estimated 1 percent of all bacteria present in the sample" - says Przemysław Decewicz.

"Our system allows to precisely determine the profile of bacteria and apply the optimal antibiotic therapy at once. This would be a key application in case of seriously ill people patients who should not receive one medication after another, without knowing which one will work" - explains Mikołaj Dziurzyński.

According the authors of the system, currently there are no alternative solutions on the market that would give physicians information in such a short time, without the involvement of scientists or external labs. There are companies that offer comprehensive gene detection services, but they use significantly more expensive methods. On top of that, qualified personnel is required to analyse the results.

"The result obtained in our system will be very easy to analyse and interpret, so that the doctor can use the feedback himself. The hospital does not have to buy additional equipment, all that is needed is our software. The only necessary skills are the use the well known and commonly used method - PCR" - explains Adrian Górecki, quoted in the press release.

The analysis result presented in the system is easy to interpret. On its basis it is immediately known which antibiotics can be used in a given case, and which will not work. Doctors usually choose an antibiotic from among a dozen medications. The system can be configured so that the result immediately presents a list of drugs marked with colours: those marked in red will not be effective, the green ones should work properly. The selection will of course ultimately depend on the patient`s other parameters and diagnosis.

"The purpose of the current pre-implementation work is to determine whether the reagents indicated by the software are sufficiently specific. Previously, in silico (computer analysis) studies were carried out on environmental samples from wastewater treatment plants, and on samples from around the world, whose DNA sequences are deposited in online databases. Now, research will be carried out on samples from patients, acquired as part of the growing cooperation of the University of Warsaw with the Medical University of Warsaw" - says Robert Dwiliński, head of the University Technology Transfer Centre at the University of Warsaw, which supports the development and commercialisation of the project.

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