By 12019. CC0 Creative Commons.

Researchers at the Northeast Center of Biological Research (CIBNOR), in Baja California Sur, and IMSS developed a test that can identify types of bacteria in hospitals’ surgical rooms, one of the major causes of infections in critical care patients, announced CONACYT’s Information Agency on Dec. 14.

Dr. Ramón Gaxiola Robles, part of the research group that developed the new test, states that the most common diseases are caused by Staphylococcus Aureus, Acinetobacter Baumannii, Klebsiella Pneumoniae and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa as they hard to remove from surfaces due to their ability to form a protective biofilm. Many prevention and awareness campaigns have addressed these infections and, while their impact has been positive in reducing the number of infections, these continue to be a problem across healthcare systems.

For that reason, the research group developed a fast way to detect the type of pathogen causing the infection, which will allow doctors to speed up the treatment and hopefully save a patient’s life. This technique is based on the loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) of DNA, which uses a set of primers and a polymerase to amplify the DNA present in a sample. The new test amplifies only specific sequences in the pathogens’ DNA through a series of primers developed by the group to detect eight different regions in the DNA and, depending on results, quickly identify which pathogen is causing the infection.

Hospital-associated infections (HAI), also known as healthcare-associated infections, refer to those acquired in hospitals and other primary care centers that were not present when the patient was admitted to a healthcare facility. They can be acquired at any hospital in the world and are responsible for hundreds of millions of infections and re-hospitalizations that cost billions of dollars for healthcare systems, according to the WHO. The organization states that seven out of every 100 patients that receive hospital attention in a developed country will acquire a HAI. This number rises to 10 out of every 100 for patients in developing countries. Mexico is not exempt. The WHO states that every year 450,000 Mexicans acquire a HAI and these infections kill 32 out of every 100,000 people.

These are opportunistic infections caused by bacteria, virus or fungi that take advantage of a weakened immune system, a condition common at hospitals and surgical rooms where already-compromised patients are more susceptible to further infections. Furthermore, the high concentration of sick people in hospitals creates a breeding ground for these pathogens. Add less-than-perfect sanitary practices and the picture becomes grim for everyone visiting a hospital.

As the research has been successful in a laboratory, the group is now working to bring this technology to the clinic.

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