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All-In-One Diagnostic Tool to Combat a Common, Deadly Stomach Virus
Researchers have developed an all-in-one diagnostic tool to identify H. pylori infections from a small sample of biopsy tissue.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), is a common bacteria that causes gastritis, peptic ulcers, and stomach cancers, affecting about 50 per cent of people worldwide. To combat the issues caused by this virus, the infection must be promptly diagnosed and treated with a suitable cocktail of antibiotics. Unfortunately, the prevailing diagnostic tools to identify H. pylori infection are insufficient as the bacteria are difficult to cultivate in vitro.

Fortunately, researchers from the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT), in collaboration with researchers at the State Key Laboratory of Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, National Institute for Communicable Disease Control and Prevention (ICDC) of China CDC, and Qingdao Municipal Hospital have created a diagnostic tool, named the Clinical Antimicrobial Susceptibility Test Ramanometry for Helicobacter pylori (CAST-R-HP) that aims to make H. pylori diagnostics faster and more reliable. Their research was published in Clinical Chemistry.

To address the problems caused by H. pylori, diagnostic tools need to be sensitive enough to detect these bacteria quickly and be capable of genomic mutation profiling to identify the mechanisms of bacterial resistance.

However, prevailing methods to check for the presence of H. pylori and to choose the suitable antibiotics for treatment, bacterial culture, and drug sensitivity testing using gastric mucosal samples obtained from endoscopic procedures are too time-inefficient, needing at least a week for the completion of all the tests.

The researchers have designed a process that carries out swift pathogen identification, metabolism inhibition-based antimicrobial susceptibility tests, as well as complete genome sequencing for single cells to better understand antimicrobial resistance mechanisms. So far, their method is 98 per cent accurate.

All of the key instruments used to conduct main tests – which include D2O-probed Ramanometry and Raman-activated Cell Sorting and Sequencing (RACS-Seq) – are contained within the CAST-R-HP device.

The scientists also hope to enhance the testing speeds of their CAST-R-HP device with some options including designing a microfluidic chip to nourish the few cells that comprise the sample from the biopsy tissue infected with H. pylori. The integration of microfluidic technology might result in the shortening of testing times of metabolic inhibition-based antimicrobial susceptibility tests from the current three days to fewer than 24 hours.

“Our next step would be to fully assess the utility of the workflow for all the first-line and second-line antibiotics in use for the treatment of H. pylori infections,” said Liu Min from the Single-Cell Center at QIBEBT, the first author of the paper.

The developed CAST-R-HP instrument could also be used to track genomic differences between different samples of H . pylori. Professor Xu hopes that his team’s creation will aid in the precise dispensing of antibiotics to treat individual cases of H. pylori infections to minimise the risk of the development of antibiotic resistance in populations.

Source: Liu et al. (2022). Single-Cell Identification, Drug Susceptibility Test, and Whole-genome Sequencing of Helicobacter pylori Directly from Gastric Biopsy by Clinical Antimicrobial Susceptibility Test Ramanometry. Clinical Chemistry.

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