BACKGROUND: Scientists at Cepheid have developed a simple new test called Xpert MRSA to detect methicilin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA), the antibiotic-resistant so-called ısuperbugı that people can contract while in the hospital for otherwise routine procedures. The new test received FDA approval in April of this year.
HOW IT WORKS: Molecular diagnostic tests are the fastest, most accurate method of MRSA screening. However, it takes a long time -- as long as two days -- and a trained staff in order to perform the analysis, and most hospitals don't have those resources. Xpert MRSA can generate a result in two hours, enabling hospitals rapidly identify infected carriers of MRSA so they can take timely control measures. The ultimate goal is to lower the rate of hospital-acquired infections and improve overall patient care. The Xpert MRSA test Simply asks users to place a patient sample in the cartridge and load it into the device. It's like having a complex molecular laboratory in a handheld box that can be used anywhere, any time. It is making molecular diagnostic technology more widely available to test for other harmful pathogens, such as enterovirus meningitis, Group B Streptococcus, or anthrax.
WHAT IS MRSA: MRSA is a common cause of skin infections; it can also cause pneumonia, ear infections and sinusitis. MRSA bacteria are sometimes dubbed 'superbugs' because they are highly resistant to common antibiotics like penicillin, making infections difficult to treat effectively. Bacteria are highly adaptive, and over time they naturally develop resistance, protecting them from incoming germs (and antibiotics) and making them harder to kill. If MRSA enters the body through the skin, it can cause irritating skin infections, but if it enters the lungs or bloodstream, it can cause serious blood infections, pneumonia, even death. MRSA infection rates in the US have been increasing every since 1970, largely because surveillance programs to monitor its spread are not effective. Other countries, such as the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark have all but eliminated MRSA from their hospitals through such surveillance programs, which focus on screen patients for MRSA at admission and isolating any carriers.
ABOUT MICROFLUIDICS: Microfluidics studies how fluids behave at microscopic levels: volumes of water, for example, that are thousands of times smaller than a single droplet. At these size scales, tiny effects that wouldn't be noticeable on a large scale play a much larger role. By understanding these effects, scientists can use them manipulate fluids on the microscopic scale. This has led to such beneficial technologies as ink jet printers and labs-on-a-chip for fast and cheap DNA sequencing.