As MedCareerNews recently reported, antibiotic resistance is reaching a crisis point. While a recent article from the Imperial College of London takes a look at what the world will be like without effective antibiotics, a new test was announced that would help ensure the right antibiotics were selected for treatment for infections.
Antibiotic Resistance Major Problem
Although antibiotics have transformed medicine since they were discovered 87 years ago, their increasing use has become a doubled edged sword, saving lives while creating bacteria that are immune to their effects.
These so-called ‘super bugs’ currently kill around 135 people a day across Europe and the U.S alone – and around 700,000 a year worldwide, a number that is steadily growing.
Already doctors in many hospitals around the world have reached the point where they can no longer use the most common antibiotics like penicillin, called first and second-line antibiotics. And even scarier, doctors are now seeing resistance to third-line antibiotics, aka carbapenems. This means they are having to turn to our fourth and fifth-line antibiotics, which are not only not as effective, but they also have serious side effects such as kidney failure and liver inflammation.
Antibiotic resistance endangers other treatments
In addition to the problems caused by antibiotic resistance, there are serious additional repercussions. Without functional antibiotics many other life saving treatments would also be eliminated, including many forms of cancer treatment.
Without antibiotics patients would not be able to undergo chemotherapy safely. Chemotherapy knocks out the immune system for a couple of weeks after treatment, so doctors frequently give them antibiotics immediately after treatment.
The situation will be equally dire for adults and children who need life-saving transplants. Transplant procedures suppress the immune system to stop the body rejecting the new organ – but this leaves them susceptible to infection, requiring antibiotics.
Heart disease is at an all-time high, and is responsible for 7.4 million deaths worldwide. So more and more patients are needing heart bypass surgery. But due to the high risk of surgical site infection, without effective antibiotics doctors will be less likely to risk the surgery. The same will be true for operations such as joint replacements and bowel operations.
New Diagnostic Test to Help Target Antibiotics
To help in the fight against antibiotic resistance, Hayes Solutions Alliance (HSA) announced the availability of the PathoGenius™ proprietary molecular diagnostic test. This unique test uses microbial DNA sequencing to provide a highly accurate diagnostic tool to help physicians “get it right the first time” when diagnosing a patient infection.
“This technology is the future of diagnostic testing. Physicians can now quickly and much more accurately determine the type of pathogen affecting the patient,” said John Hayes, president of HSA. “Finding out specifically what type of bug is causing the problem and then being able to treat only that specific pathogen helps get patients better, faster, and reduces the need for multiple antibiotic use which, as we are learning, is causing great concern in the medical community.”
The PathoGenius test is reported to be 99% accurate, as opposed to the standard culturing technique, that have been in use for the last 150 years. and can only grow and, therefore detect, less than 5% of microbes known.
Due to this fall in the process, many physicians have stopped ordering traditional cultures and prescribe an antibiotic based on past experience. In the case of a chronic infection, many patients are subjected to a game of antibiotic Russian Roulette as physicians seek a cure of an ongoing infection—a contributing factor to the overuse of antibiotics and to antibiotic resistance.
The highly accurate microbial DNA sequencing test from PathoGenius™ is comparably priced to culturing. Currently, PathoGenius™ is testing thousands of samples each month from physicians around the country. Just about any type of infection can be DNA sequenced. Physicians are encouraged to contact HSA with any questions or to get started.
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Lindsey McCoy MPA, is an Executive Medical Recruiter and former CEO in the not for profit sector.