Rapid Evaluation of Bacterial Antibiotic Resistance

G. Longo, L. Alonso-Sarduy, J. Pekkanen, G. Dietler, S. Kasas
Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne, CH

Keywords: bacteria, antibiotics, resistance, nanomechanical oscillators, cantilevers


Antibiotics represent one of mankind’s most important medical inventions, yet antibiotic resistance has emerged as a significant health-care problem due to the extensive use and misuse of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine. Suppressing the emergence and propagation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is one of the major health issues of this century. To deliver a complete antibiogram, conventional techniques require more than 1 day and several days or weeks in the case of slow-growing microorganisms. We present a new nanomechanical oscillator system capable of detecting movement of biological samples (from proteins to bacteria or cells) at the nanoscale. The technique is versatile and simple and can be useful in the fields of medicine, drug-development or microbiology. This patented system can quantitatively determine, in less than 30 minutes, the response to antibiotics of any bacterial strain including slow-growing microorganisms. Such extremely fast characterizations have been exploited to study Gram-positive and -negative strains and preliminary results are now available involving Mycobacteria. The speed and sensitivity of the technique will have a massive impact, allowing reducing the time needed to obtain a complete antibiogram. This will potentially change the therapy of infections caused by multi-resistant bacteria as well as the development of new antibiotics.