Antibiotics are one of the most efficient ways to treat bacterial infections. However, the widespread use of antibiotics accelerates the development of bacterial strains resistant to specific antibiotics. In 2014, antibiotic resistance has claimed the lives of more than 700,000 people worldwide, in addition to a combined $ 35 billion a year in the US alone.
According to established estimates, every hour of delay in the treatment of antibiotics reduces the patient’s survival rate by 7.6%. Therefore, in order not to leave the patient without protection, many doctors provide their patients, while awaiting results, “broad” antibiotics in large doses. This phenomenon accelerates the formation of bacterial resistance to antibiotics and also affects microbiota – the population of “good bacteria” found in the human body and protects it.
In this context, the importance of technologies that can predetermine the resistance of a specific bacteria to specific antibiotics is understood. Here comes the innovative system developed by the Technion: SNDA-AST.
This system quickly analyzes the sample of the biological material obtained from the patient (urine, for example) and produces information on the population of the bacteria in the sample and their level of resistance to specific antibiotics. This enables the staff to choose the most effective antibiotic.
The research was led by the Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion, Prof. Shulamit Levenberg, and was carried out by three researchers in her lab: doctoral student Yonatan Avisar, postdoctoral student Dekel Rosenfeld and doctoral student Tom Ben Aryeh. The research was conducted in cooperation with Prof. Moran Berkovitz of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technion and the doctoral student Marianna Truman-Rosentziv, in cooperation with Dr. Yuval Geffen, head of the microbiological laboratory at the Rambam Medical Center. It was funded by a grant from the Innovation Authority and I-CORE.
Yonatan Avisar, explains: “Every day, every hospital in Israel conducts hundreds of tests designed to map the population of polluting bacteria in the sample taken from the patient. The problem is that this is a very long test since it based on sample delivery to the laboratory, breeding of bacteria in a petri dish and analysis of the culture. This process requires a relatively large sampling and usually takes a few days, in part because the working day in laboratories is limited to about eight hours. Our method, on the other hand, provides accurate results in a short time based on a much smaller sample. It is clear that a faster response allows us to start treatment earlier and improve recovery. ”
The device developed by the Technion researchers is a chip with hundreds of nanoscale holes inside, each containing a few bacteria and a particular antibiotic. Detection of the bacterial response is done using a fluorescent marker, image processing tools and statistical analysis of the colors obtained from bacteria in all tiny holes.
In an experiment in which 12 strains of the antibiotic bacterium tested, the results achieved in a short time were accurate and allowed for early and efficient treatment of the infectious bacteria. “The use of the technology we developed reduces the size of the required sample by several orders, reduces the scanning time by 50 percent, significantly reduces the laboratory space needed for testing and reduces the cost of each test,” Avisar said.