Explorer Grant (2017 funding round)

Professor Sarah Hook
University of Otago, Dunedin
Real time in situ antibiotic sensitivity testing
24 months

Lay summary

We are proposing to completely change how bacterial resistance is detected – saving patient lives and health care resources. The sensitivity testing will be done in the patient with the results being detected at the patient’s bedside using a simple assay that does not require access to laboratory facilities. This real time in situ testing involves treating the patient with a test dose of antibiotic delivered in a nanoparticle along with an inactive reporter. If bacteria are drug sensitive they will upregulate a number of enzymes, one of which will activate the reporter. The activated reporter will then be detected in a drop of blood taken from the patient using a highly sensitive assay, similar to glucose testing. Providing clinicians with a method for determining antibiotic resistance at the bedside in a timely fashion will transform how antibiotics are used, allowing them to move from empirical to evidence-based treatment of disease.

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