Testing for bloodstream infections (BSIs) is a costly and time-consuming process. Currently, two to four days are needed to identify the pathogen causing an infection and measure its susceptibility to antibiotics. These time delays contribute to preventable deaths. For example, a 24 hour delay in detecting ESBL producing E. coli (an emerging threat in Canada) increases mortality rates by five per cent. Detecting these pathogens faster will allow dangerous infections to be controlled before they progress into life-threatening conditions.
Calgary Laboratory Services (CLS), which serves more than 2.1 million people in Calgary and the surrounding area, is partnering with Dr. Ian Lewis of the University of Calgary to accelerate the development of a testing device that can identify BSI pathogens and determine their drug sensitivity in less than six hours. This new device uses an emerging “metabolomics” technology to identify and characterize pathogens. The UofC/CLS partnership has developed a prototype that can perform standardized testing in less than 24 hours and future devices will complete this process in a fraction of that time. The project has financial backing from, among others, Thermo Scientific, a leading instrument manufacturer with a global distribution network. The Genome Canada funding will be a bridge to refine the existing prototype and move the product into clinical service.
Once in use, the device will reduce the costs of BSI analysis by more than 70 per cent and simplify the testing procedure. Once implemented this device could capture a significant portion of the $12 billion global market for clinical microbiology testing, lower deaths and long-term consequences from BSIs, and deliver significant savings to health-care systems.