Project Lead(s): Richard McAloney
The use of antimicrobial agents to cure infections is one of the most significant health advances in human history, but the misuse of drugs has resulted in the spread of many drug-resistant microorganisms.
The first step in controlling antimicrobial resistance is to identify their presence and source, which requires effective and accessible monitoring systems.
However, there is little testing and monitoring performed outside of major cities, and hospitals and microbiological testing facilities in under-resourced settings often lack trained personnel and resources.
The goal of the project was to develop a plan for a prototype instrument for detecting antimicrobial resistance that would be compact, easy to use, rugged and suitable for use in under-resourced settings.
The underlying technology for the project was based on a commercially available instrument, dotLab™ – a bench-top unit sold globally, primarily for research and assay development – that detects a wide range of analytes, including proteins, DNA and cells in complex media, such as blood.
The key parts of innovation were to design a miniaturized and rugged system, and to develop a new sensor element that would enable the specific detection of a wide range of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.
A prototype has been successfully developed that detects bacteria based on diffractive optics.
A simple breadboard instrument that is potentially inexpensive has been designed, constructed and tested in a laboratory setting.
The new design for sensor element and combined fluidic channel was proven to be effective at capturing cells of different sizes and that the diffraction signal change was observed.
This proves that a reagentless sensor – specific for a range of bacteria – can be used and made selective for determining the presence of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms.
During this project, partnerships were identified and in-principle agreements to collaborate were obtained: Axela Inc. (Canada) has expressed interest in partnering for further development.
Patent filing for the work is pending.