Researchers at American University have developed a genetic test to detect antibiotic resistance. According to the first experiments, the test is as accurate as the in vitro cultures and much faster. It could therefore facilitate the treatment of respiratory infections resistant to the most common antibiotics.
The test is used to determine if the patient is infected with bacteria with the mef (A) gene. The variant makes the bacteria resistant to two of the most common antibiotics: erythromycin and azithromycin. The latter, in particular, is the most prescribed and used in the United States.
The test identifies the gene in about 10 minutes, nothing to do with the hours of a classic in vitro culture. It would therefore be easier to use in daily diagnostic procedures, even by family doctors. A few minutes would be enough to understand if normal treatments do not work because of this resistance.
This new study also highlights an increasingly serious problem in the United States but also in Italy. Bacteria are developing increasing resistance to antibiotics, which makes them more difficult to fight and more dangerous. It is estimated that "super bacteria" infect about 2 million people a year in the United States alone. Of these, about 23,000 die due to untreated infection.
Beyond genetic testing, it is important to develop greater awareness of the use of antibiotics. They should always be used only on medical prescription and in the manner indicated.