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Using DNA sequences to tailor medical treatment

Thursday 05 Apr 18

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Philipp Kirstahler
PhD student
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 71 83

Contact

Sünje Johanna Pamp
Associate Professor
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 63 54
A method further developed at the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, uses knowledge about the DNA profile of pathogenic microorganisms to ensure that patients could receive personalized medical treatment.

The sooner doctors know the cause of an infection or disease, the faster they can initiate the correct treatment and thus improve the clinical outcome. One example is endophthalmitis, which is an inflammation of the inner eye caused by an infection that can for example occur in connection with a cataract surgery. Endophthalmitis can lead to blindness if not treated quickly and properly

A PhD project from the National Food Institute has now shown that the use of the DNA sequencing technique shotgun metagenomics on fluid from the eye can produce valuable information about the specific microorganism that causes the endophthalmitis in each patient. This knowledge can then be used to target the treatment.

Shotgun DNA sequencing has previously been used to identify pathogenic microorganisms. However, the previous methods had different limitations and could give incorrect identifications of microorganisms. 

Improved workflow
"In the long term, the approach will generate information that can be used to quickly identify the specific cause of various infections and diseases so that the medical treatment can be precisely tailored to the patient."
PhD student Philipp Kirstahler

PhD student Philipp Kirstahler from the National Food Institute has now improved the way in which the microorganism that is responsible for the disease is identified. The improvements are partly in relation to the laboratory technique, but in particular related to the removal of erroneous information from the standard reference databases, which are used for identifying matches between the reference microorganisms and the causing infectious agent in the patient.

Big potential in the long term

"In the long term, the approach will generate information that can be used to quickly identify the specific cause of various infections and diseases so that the medical treatment can be precisely tailored to the patient," Philipp Kirstahler explains.

"The method can also reveal whether pathogenic microorganisms are resistant to certain types of antimicrobials. If an antimicrobial treatment is necessary, then the doctor will be able to use this knowledge to choose a type that will have an effect, which also helps to promote a more responsible use of antimicrobials and to reduce the development of resistance," Associate Professor Sünje J. Pamp says.

“The ability to precisely identify disease-causing microorganisms is not only important for medical doctors, but also critically important for veterinarians, farmers and food producers. The methods developed by the National Food Institute can be further developed and used in these sectors to promote animal health and to prevent the transfer of disease-causing microorganisms in animals and food to humans,” Sünje J. Pamp adds.

Read more

The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from the National Food Institute, Hvidovre Hospital and Rigshospitalet Glostrup and is described in the scientific journal Scientific Reports: Genomics-Based Identification of Microorganisms in Human Ocular Body Fluid.

Read more about the DNA sequence analysis on the National Food Institute’s website and on how the Institute's research in DNA sequencing techniques helps to establish international standards for the detection, monitoring and study of global spread of pathogenic microorganisms and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

http://www.food.dtu.dk/english/news/nyhed?id=16C07B5A-F11C-41C9-B9A0-9B83869CA6BB&utm_device=web&utm_source=RelatedNews&utm_campaign=Great-time-saving-in-the-development-of-skincare-products
23 JULY 2018