Bacterial infections account for more than 13 percent of deaths worldwide.
"If we don't take steps to slow or stop drug resistance, we will fall back to a time when simple infections killed people."
"Anything we can do to detect these infectious agents more quickly, as they're happening, or to bring that information together and allow more real-time response to it, could help save lives."
Technology to Match the Threat
Practical technology is following the research. Software already exists to identify bacterial strains and their resistance profiles using a laptop, providing comprehensive reports in minutes.
"We don’t want untreatable infections to become common,” said Arjun Srinivasan, MD, CDC’s associate director for Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Programs, in a CDC release. CDC’s “plans to combat this include obtaining real-time data about antibiotic use and trends to better understand prescribing practices in doctor’s offices and...hospitals." Getting this real-time data is critical, as is the ability to analyze it quickly and get actionable insights.
Sequencing has now been used for real-time tracking of the Ebola virus in West Africa and the Zika virus in Brazil. For Ebola, researchers flew a new portable sequencer in their luggage and were able to quickly map transmission patterns after identifying strains within 24 hours. Previous methods involved shipping blood samples to labs overseas, which took weeks1.
Following these examples, health agencies around the world are calling to expand the practice to help stay ahead of any future outbreaks.
"Detection and surveillance are a really big part of containing these out breaks,” said Jennifer Esposito, Intel’s worldwide general manager, health and life sciences. “Anything we can do to detect these infectious agents more quickly, as they’re happening, or to bring that information together and allow more real-time response to it, could help save lives.”