New methods in molecular diagnostics
Molecular biology has the potential to revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of infectious disease, particularly when combined with new sample processing methods and user-friendly informatic analysis. These methods could enable identification of pathogens and their resistance genes directly in clinical specimens in 1-4 hours rather than the 48 hours currently needed for conventional diagnostic microbiology, so allowing early, precise and effective therapy and avoiding the use of inappropriate treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics. Importantly it could also facilitate the development of narrow-spectrum anti-infectives that have been ignored previously because of the lack of rapid diagnosis. Some of the most challenging infectious diseases requiring microbiological diagnosis are also those that require the most urgent treatment: e.g. sepsis and pneumonia. NRP scientists are developing novel sample preparation technology (e.g. to recover the small proportion of bacterial DNA present in blood from a sepsis patient) combined with the latest nanopore DNA sequencing machines, with the aim of providing rapid pathogen and antimicrobial resistance detection.