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Scientists make strides in personalized antibiotic treatment

Study finds way to detect antibiotic resistance genes in the gut faster, which could lead to better treatment.

By
Amy Wallace
Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. Researchers in Denmark have developed a method to quickly identify antibiotic-resistant gut microbes to better treat antibiotic resistance. (Flickr/NIAID)
Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. Researchers in Denmark have developed a method to quickly identify antibiotic-resistant gut microbes to better treat antibiotic resistance. (Flickr/NIAID)

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Researchers examined how gut microbes lead to antibiotic resistance to find ways to overcome that resistance.

Naturally occurring bacteria in the gut hold several resistance genes, which can be exchanged with infectious bacteria leading to antibiotic resistance.

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Researchers from The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical Institute of Denmark have created a super-fast, inexpensive method to identify the pool of resistance genes in gut microbiota, known as the resistome.

The technique, called poreFUME, uses nanopore sequencing to rapidly identify the resistome of the gut. The poreFUME works faster because it does not require the growth of fecal bacteria and the data from the device can be streamed in real time.

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Current methods of getting resistome data can take weeks, and during that waiting period the resistome can change dramatically and the patient's health can decline further.

"With this method, you will get an overview of the resistome in 1 - 2 days, and, hence, be able to start the treatment of the infection sooner and with better results than before," Eric van der Helm, postdoctoral at The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability -- DTU Biosustain -- at the Technical University of Denmark.

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Data show that 700,000 people die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections, so a faster assessment of their personal pool of resistance genes in their feces could have life-saving impacts.

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"Our research shows, that this method provides a promising alternative to other sequencing methods, and that it can be used to rapidly profile the resistome of microbial communities in for instance the gut," Morten Sommer, professor at DTU Biosustain and co-author of the study, said in a press release. "We are quite convinced, that rapid resistome profiling could lead to personalized antibiotic treatment in high risk patients."

The study found that poreFUME was 97 percent accurate in identifying the resistome compared to standard profiling methods and is also much more cost effective due to the use of a small, handheld DNA-sequencing device.

The study was published in Nucleic Acid Research.

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