Lifesaving antibiotic resistance test to be commercialised

24/05/2023 | 2 mins

Breakthrough technology that can diagnose antibiotic resistance within hours has received $500,000 of commercial funding to accelerate its path to clinical use.

"As a scientist this discovery has been exciting but to see it being translated for the benefit of patients, hopefully in the next five years, is deeply rewarding."

Dr Kieran Mulroney

The technology grew out of research led by The University of Western Australia's Medical School and School of Biomedical Science
at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and will be funded by CUREator, a commercial acceleration incubator that specialises in health security and is funded by the Federal Government via the CSIRO and administered by Brandon BioCatalyst.

UWA Forrest Prospect Fellow Dr Kieran Mulroney, from the UWA Medical School, and Dr Aron Chakera, from UWA's Medical School and  Director of Research of Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, were senior authors of the paper Same-day confirmation of infection and antimicrobial susceptibility profiling using flow cytometry.

Dr Mulroney has been selected to join CUREator, which will assist to accelerate the commercial development process.

Newly formed Western Australian company, Cytophenix, a partnership between the researchers, UWA and a local AI firm Three Springs Technology, will develop the technology.

Each year 1.27 million people worldwide die from infections resistant to antibiotics. Current tests take 2-5 days to isolate infecting bacteria and identify effective antibiotics, whereas Cytophenix’s test will deliver results in less than five hours.

Dr Mulroney said the $500,000 commercialisation accelerator grant was an important milestone on the path to bringing the technology to clinical use.

“As a scientist this discovery has been exciting but to see it being translated for the benefit of patients, hopefully in the next five years, is deeply rewarding,” Dr Mulroney said.

The technology has been peer reviewed and was published in the international medical journal The Lancet eBiomedicine in July 2022.

“Our technology, the flow cytometry-assisted antimicrobial susceptibility test (FAST), is a rapid and accurate test that returns answers on the best antibiotic to prescribe in just 3-5 hours,” Dr Mulroney said.

“FAST is a ‘one-principle-fits-all’ platform, meaning it is applicable to essentially all combinations of bacteria, fungi, and the antibiotics that treat them. This includes novel and emerging pathogens.”

Using a device that measures hundreds of thousands of individual bacteria in just a few seconds, the technology detects the damage antibiotics cause to bacteria and then uses this information to confirm which antibiotic will be an effective treatment.

Across more than 19,000 individual test results from clinical samples, the technology has demonstrated the levels of real-world accuracy and precision required by regulatory agencies for clinical use.

“We can predict which antibiotics will be effective to treat that infection with 96.9 per cent accuracy,” Dr Mulroney said.

The research was done in partnership with North Metro Health:  Sir Charles Gairdner and Osbourne Park Health Care Hospital.

FAST has been developed in affiliation with PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA and the WA Country Health Service.

The technology will particularly benefit rural and remote patients where access to early diagnosis of sepsis is often difficult.


Media references

Carrie Cox (UWA Media & PR Advisor) 08 6488 6876

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