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In an effort to slow antibiotic resistance and speed up effective treatment, scientists have developed a quick test to tell whether Staphylococcus aureus — a bacteria that causes up to 60 percent of hospital-acquired infections in the United States — will respond to various antibiotics. The test delivers results in just a few hours. Here’s what lead researcher Dr. Victor Nizet of the University of California, San Diego said about the findings, published in EBioMedicine.

What’s the problem with how doctors decide to treat with an antibiotic?

Without specific knowledge of the antibiotic susceptibility of the pathogen, antibiotic therapy will be empiric, that is, based on a “best guess” of the right drug or combination of drugs based on recent epidemiological trends or hospital data. Empiric therapy tends to be very broad spectrum, “covering all bases,” and may kill off many of the good citizen bacteria living in our gut microbiome that … help protect against pathogens and stimulate proper immune function.

What does your method do to address that problem?

The Bacterial Cytological Profiling (BCP) method uses high-resolution microscopy and specific dyes to monitor changes in the shape and appearance of individual bacteria-like cells that occur within minutes of antibiotic exposure. With rapid, specific, and reliable data on susceptibility, the doctor and patient can be sure that the most potent and effective antibiotics are being administered, providing the best chance for cure and avoiding complications.


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