Faster diagnosis and treatment possible

Wednesday 18 Dec 13


Frank Møller Aarestrup
Professor, Head of Research Group
DTU National Food Institute
+45 35 88 62 81


Ole Lund
DTU Health Tech
Danish researchers from National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, DTU Systems Biology and Hvidovre Hospital have demonstrated how—within the space of a single day—pathogenic bacteria can be identified and described directly from clinical samples. In the long term, this will help doctors treat patients more quickly with the right medicine, thus reducing periods of illness and saving lives. The findings have just been published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Around 22 per cent of all deaths are attributable to infection. Effective treatment and control are often hindered by untimely diagnosis and a lack of updated information about the pathogenic microorganism in question. In a new study, researchers from National Food Institute, DTU Systems Biology and Hvidovre Hospital have used what is known as genome sequencing to examine pathogenic bacteria.  This involves analysing the bacterial DNA in full.
The researchers have demonstrated for the first time that this technique can be applied directly on clinical samples to identify and describe the pathogenic bacteria. In just 18 hours, the researchers have succeeded in describing the class and type of bacteria, as well as their resistance to antimicrobial agents, in samples taken from patients with urinary tract infections. This is a process that currently takes up to a week to complete.

Fast, accurate knowledge about pathogenic bacteria and information about which antimicrobial agents the doctor should use to treat them is crucial. If the doctor makes the wrong choice, this could result in a longer period of illness and—at worst—even prove fatal.

Read more

Read the scientific article in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology: Rapid whole genome sequencing for the detection and characterization of microorganisms directly from clinical samples.

See the press release from American Society of Microbiology: New technique identifies pathogens in patient samples faster, in great detail.

Find out more about the Global Microbial Identifier initiative headed up by National Food Institute. Partnering with leading international institutions, Global Microbial Identifier is set to revolutionize and significantly improve opportunities for identifying pathogenic bacteria through the use of genome sequencing data worldwide.