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Last updateThu, 26 Nov 2020 5pm

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Test for the diagnosis of P. aeruginosa infections by detecting its communication molecules

The CSIC has developed an immunochemical technique for the diagnosis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. It detects the main signalling molecules that the bacteria use to communicate (Quorum Sensing). The test is very specific and has high sensitivity, as well as a high capacity for sample processing, which ensures diagnostic efficiency. It can also be easily implemented on point-of-care (PoC) devices.

P. aeruginosa in the mucosa of cystic fibrosis patients. The test can stratify patients depending on whether they have an acute or a chronic infectionScientists have recently started to research on bacteria 'social' interaction. This interaction is possible because bacterial communities have a sophisticated cellular communication system known as 'Quorum sensing' or QS, which allows each individual to know and share information about its community, such as population density.

This information bacteria share triggers a collective induction of bacterial genes expression, which therefore modulates a wide variety of physiological activities, including the secretion of virulence factors or the formation of biofilms. Some of these factors are related to the development of pathogenicity.

To communicate, bacteria secrete and detect small molecules, chemical signalling agents that, in fact, can be detected in their extracellular environment.

To communicate with each other, bacteria secrete and detect small molecules that act as chemical signaling agents

Now, CSIC researchers at the Institute of Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC) have developed a system to detect signalling molecules of P. aeruginosa bacteria. It enables the diagnosis of infections caused by this microorganism. As scientists explain, the close relationship between the release of these signalling molecules and the virulence of infection makes these molecules excellent biomarkers.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a ubiquitous bacterium with minimal requirements for survival and a remarkable ability to adapt to the environment. It is responsible for a large number of infections, especially in hospitalized or immunosuppressed patients. It can cause sepsis (infection in the blood), which can be fatal if infection is not properly diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

A wide variety of infections

This bacterium is responsible for a wide variety of infections, such as infections in the urinary tract, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, and dermis. Traditional diagnosis through microbiological tests may require between 24 and 48 hours for finding out the causative agent.

Other methods, such as PCR, are faster but require qualified personnel and expensive equipment, only available in specialized facilities. This causes a delay in diagnosis, which leads to the prescription and misuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics and, in its turn, antimicrobial resistance. The latter is as a matter of fact one of the biggest problems today in the field of infectious diseases.

The CSIC scientists have developed the first in vitro diagnostic test that identifies the main signalling molecules of the ‘pqs’ system of Quorum sensing. The 'pqs' is one of the most characteristic communication systems of the bacterium.

The current microplate test is robust, precise, specific and highly sensitive. It is a low cost technique and allows the parallel analysis of many clinical samples

The test, which is currently an ELISA type, can quantify some of these signalling molecules in very low concentrations (low nM range), even in complex clinical samples. The quantification of these molecules could allow an early diagnosis, and provide information on the stage and evolution of the disease, as well as on the efficacy of the treatment. Pharmaceutical companies interested in collaborating in the commercialization of this test through a patent license agreement are sought.

The current microplate test is robust, precise, specific and highly sensitive. It is a low cost technique and allows the parallel analysis of many clinical samples quickly and efficiently. The clinical studies that have been carried out point to the ability of the test to stratify patients depending on whether they have a P. aeruginosa acute infection or they are in a chronic phase.

The test could be implemented in different configurations, including microarray, immunosensors and other Point of Care (PoC) formats, such as a simple strip test (LFIA). This would allow the test to be use even in primary care services, therefore enabling a quick diagnosis and the application of the most appropriate treatments in the early stage of infection.

Contact:

Isabel Masip
Vicepresidencia Adjunta
de Transferencia de Conocimiento - CSIC
Tel: + 34 – 93 442 65 76
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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