Fight bacterial infections like C. difficile
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Compact Disc Drives Medical Advance!
Believe it or not, a simple compact disc could help you fight a virulent bacterial infection C. difficile. Read our article to find out how prominent Université Laval researcher Dr. Michel G. Bergeron and his team are helping doctors treat infections faster.
Compact Disk Has a Promising Future in Medicine!
To treat their patients efficiently, doctors need diagnostic tests that deliver rapid results. Yet today’s clinical microbiology testing is slow. This means that doctors generally have to wait 36 to 48 hours before getting the results that tell them exactly which microbe is responsible for their patient’s health problem.
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a common bacterium that is naturally found in a woman’s body. According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), 15 to 40 percent of pregnant women are GBS colonized and 40 to 70 percent of them will pass the bacteria on to their baby during childbirth. These bacteria can cause serious health problems in newborns (infection of the blood, brain, spinal cord, etc.). SGB infections are also the leading cause of death by bacterial infection in newborns.
In many cases, doctors cannot afford to wait for the tests to come back, leaving them no choice but to select and start a course of treatment relying only on their clinical experience. This, at times, can lead to the overuse of antibiotics and the eventual development of drug resistance, the onset of avoidable complications and, of course, additional costs to the health care system.
All of this could change!
Dr. Michel G. Bergeron, a full professor and Director and Founder of the Infectious Disease Research Centre (IDRC) at Université Laval, and his team have developed a revolutionary technology. Through the company GenePOC, they have invented a miniature lab on a CD capable of performing DNA-based diagnoses. This groundbreaking device will help physicians identify microbes such as C. difficile in less than an hour and pinpoint their antibiotic resistance genes.
According to Health Canada, C. difficile is the main cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitalized patients in the industrialized world. It is also the most common infection in hospitals and long-term care facilities. “A study in Québec showed that a stronger strain of the bacteria may be present in hospitals in the province. The study found that C. difficile was indirectly responsible for 108 deaths during a six-month period.”* Fortunately, since the emergence of this new strain, hospitals have taken measures to limit the spread of the infection. Having a rapid diagnostic test could also go a long way toward helping treat affected patients more quickly, reducing the risk of transmission. And this is why Dr. Bergeron’s technology is more important than ever.
* Quote: Healh Canada
Researchers at the IDRC were the first in the world to create rapid genomics tests to detect microbes, including Group B Streptococcus, a common cause of neonatal meningitis (Bergeron et al., N Engl J Med 343 : 175-9, 2000). This test and four others used to diagnose hospital-borne infectious agents have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are currently being manufactured in a Québec City plant employing 350 highly skilled workers and sold around the world.
Génome Québec believes that genomics will improve the way we care for our health, which is why it has contributed to the sum of $8 million awarded to Dr. Bergeron and his team. This is just one of the ways Génome Québec is bringing science to life.
Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases at Université Laval
“Our invention brings together genomics, DNA chips, microfluid circuits and nanotechnology. Using the CD, doctors will be able to identify a multitude of disease-causing microbes in only 30 to 60 minutes, right in their office. It’s a medical breakthrough and we’re all quite proud of it.”