We have great news! The European Research Council awarded Albert with a Proof of Concept grant to work on ResisCHIP, a kit we are developing to quickly detect antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
AMR causes over 700.000 deaths each year and is associated to reduced quality of life, increased hospitalization periods and medical costs. Hence, developing fast diagnostic methods to identify the optimal treatment is key to effectively fight AMR and increase survival rates of patients encountering life-threatening infections. So far, diagnostics rely on bacterial cultures, leading to slow turnaround times, which are linked to the preventive administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics, often inefficient and leading to worse disease outcomes and spread of AMR. Novel approaches such as DNA PCR-based diagnostic panels or next generation sequencing methods have been recently proposed to address this issue. However, they are target a limited number of pathogens and genes or require expensive equipment and highly-trained personnel. Furthermore, they require a culture step to reach detection levels, usually lasting a few hours, that can be critical for serious conditions.
Recently, using technology derived from ERC StG and PoC grants, we designed a method to concentrate, purify, and isolate bacterial RNA in just 5 minutes. With this grant, we seek to develop and validate these tools, combined with a rapid RNA chip array with single-molecule resolution, to provide a culture-free, fast, and highly sensitive alternative to bacterial infection diagnostics from direct blood samples.
Once developed, ResisCHIP will provide a tailor-made diagnostic kit with the capacity to identify thousands of genes and pathogens from a blood sample in less than 2 hours, allowing the rapid selection of the best treatment, improving AMR stewardess, and becoming a significant breakthrough in AMR diagnostics.