The challenge

The threat of microbial resistance

The media constantly reminds us of the threat of growing levels of microbial resistance to antibiotics. We face the possibility of actually running out of effective antibiotics to treat infections, which would take us back to the pre-antibiotic era. World leaders have claimed that the problem is one to put alongside terrorism and global warming.

One solution is to develop more antibiotics or inhibitors that disable the mechanisms of resistance. Such solutions are important – but they are a long way off and we need answers now. And we all know that bacteria will adapt.

The solution from Spectromics is to use smarter diagnostics to better guide the prescription of the antibiotics we already possess, extending their useful life and preserving our last-line- of-defence drugs.

Diagnostic-guided treatment is not new. It has changed the life expectancy and survival rates for patients with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV and is now having an impact on cancer by individualising the targeted treatment.

The Spectromics ten-minute test

In many of the most common chronic bacterial infections, antibiotics are prescribed in vast quantities, often empirically and without any diagnostic guidance. The reason is that today’s diagnostics are laboratory-based and too slow to be used ahead of prescription. As a result, patients are given antibiotics thought to be the most appropriate – but many infections are resistant in up to 70% of cases.

Providing antibiotics when they are not required or antibiotics that won’t kill the infecting bacteria because they are resistant only exacerbates the development of drug resistance and its consequential spread.

To overcome this problem, Spectromics have developed a ten minute diagnostic test that will fit into a patient appointment and ensure the prescription of a drug that works first time. The test is simple to administer and ideal for use at point-of-prescription.

An added benefit of making better use of existing drugs is their immediate availability and lower costs compared to new drugs.

Our method of spectrometric analysis has the power to dramatically change how diagnostic testing for drug susceptibility/resistance is performed. Whilst traditional phenotypic culture testing is a cornerstone of microbial research, there is a clear need for comparable phenotypic tests that can be performed in minutes rather than days, near the patient at the point-of-prescription.