A startup is using a technique for rapid gene sequencing to pinpoint areas with high levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Spotted: Antibiotic resistance is considered one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. Overuse of common antibiotics, including in animal feed, has created antibiotic-resistant strains of common infections, including pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhoea, and foodborne diseases. Increasingly, these illnesses are becoming very difficult, and at times impossible, to treat. While the solution to this problem is complex and long-term, one important element is to monitor the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant organisms. This is where Resistomap comes in.
The Finnish biotech startup is the first company in the world to commercialise antibiotic resistance monitoring in the environment. It is a data-driven laboratory service for monitoring antibiotic resistance from environmental samples. The company explains its service as combining “molecular genetics and data science with high-throughput real-time PCR (qPCR) technology” to provide a complete laboratory and analysis service for the environmental monitoring of antibiotic resistance.
Hospitals, researchers, water and sewage companies, the food production industry, and others can supply samples in several ways. These include wastewater, surface water, soils, manure, and stool samples. Resistomap then uses a technique called quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to rapidly quantify the amount of different types of DNA in a sample. The technique can quickly and efficiently identify the presence of multiple organisms in a single sample.
Resistomap combines qPCR technology with automated data analysis and a digital dashboard which makes it easy for users to understand the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in their samples in depth. The company describes its goal as “global environmental monitoring. Our vision is to be a global leader in environmental antibiotic resistance monitoring services.”
As biotech techniques like qPCR testing allow DNA to be sequenced faster and more efficiently, we are beginning to see the uses for gene testing expand. From diagnosing the health of vineyard soil to spotting damaged buildings, DNA sequencing is being used in a variety of commercial settings and novel ways.
Written By: Lisa Magloff