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Mass Spectrometry Allows for Rapid Bacterial ID at Le Bonheur Children's

New mass spectrometry technology is helping Le Bonheur Children's physicians analyze microbiology samples quickly – identifying specific bacteria present in a sample within minutes.

Le Bonheur is one of a handful of children's hospitals using the technology to analyze samples.

"We can cut hours out of our analysis with mass spectrometry," said Royce Joyner, MD, medical director of Laboratories at Le Bonheur. The alternative method for bacterial identification is Gram stain technique, which can only determine broad groupings of microorganisms.

Because false positive results can be ruled out more quickly with mass spectrometry, families can be saved the stress of a possible septicemia, says Le Bonheur Infectious Disease Lab Manager Tekita McKinney. True positives can be confirmed in minutes, speeding up the treatment process.

"This equipment has the potential to help improve patient care, by substantially decreasing the time it takes to identify bacteria in clinical specimens. This, in turn, will enable clinicians to more rapidly decide which antibiotics (if any) are best suited for their patients," said Le Bonheur Infectious Disease Specialist Steve Buckingham, MD. "We are excited about implementing this cutting-edge technology, which is only the latest step in our ongoing effort to optimize patient care."

Mass spectrometry works by using laser beam to disrupt and ionize proteins in the bacteria – a process called matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization. Proteins are then measured for mass and charge – the ratio of which determines a culture's peaks or spectra. The mass spectrometer's library of peak signatures identifies the type of bacteria in the sample.

Mass spectrometry has, for a long time, been used in chemistry and toxicology and is a common tool in forensics. The technique is relatively new to the field of microbiology and will have a positive impact on health care, says Joyner.

New Genome Sequence Scanning Technology To Speed Food Testing
Tuesday October 16, 2012
PathoGenetix, Inc., developer of Genome Sequence Scanning™ (GSS™) technology for rapid microorganism strain typing, announced today that it will deliver the first commercial application of its proprietary technology in food safety testing, for availability in 2013. The automated benchtop GSS system will identify food pathogens to strain level, directly from complex mixtures such as food samples, in just four hours.

Genome Sequence Scanning is a breakthrough in microbial identification technology with significant advantages for food pathogen testing and outbreak tracking. GSS works directly from complex samples and provides results in just four hours—days faster than current identification methods. The strain-level information provided is comparable to pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), the current gold standard for food pathogen outbreak investigation. Yet GSS’s automated platform and simplified protocol required minimal training and ensure consistent, accurate results.

“PathoGenetix’s Genome Sequence Scanning is a breakthrough technology for food companies and government agencies working to ensure safe food,” says PathoGenetix CEO, John Canepa. “Rapid, accurate and cost-effective strain typing of food pathogens allows more informed decisions, better source tracking and faster outbreak investigations, and that means safer food and saved lives.”

Food Safety Testing and Outbreak Tracking

New regulations and increasing food recalls and public concern are heightening the need for faster identification of dangerous pathogens in food. Food companies, government agencies and public health labs conduct regular food safety testing on raw materials, production facilities and finished products to ensure food quality and detect potentially dangerous organisms like Salmonella, Listeria or E. coli in food imports and food products.

If a pathogen is detected in food or in a production facility, additional testing is required to identify the pathogen strain and track it back to its source. Current identification systems, however, require time-consuming sample preparation and complex test methods that add numerous days to a process where every minute can make a difference.

PathoGenetix’s novel Genome Sequence Scanning technology extracts microbial DNA directly from complex samples, without the need for cultured isolates or primer design. A restriction enzyme cuts the DNA into large fragments and fluorescent tags are added based on the organism’s genome sequence. GSS uses the DNA fragment length and spacing of tags to create a fingerprint, similar to a genomic barcode, which is recorded and compared to a database for strain identification.

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