Scientists develop new canine infection test
“The technology will significantly reduce the time taken to receive testing results, from several days to a matter of hours” – Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust.

The rapid diagnostic test could tackle antibiotic resistance.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have developed a new method to diagnose bacterial infections in dogs, which could allow veterinary surgeons to prescribe appropriate antibiotics more quickly, reducing the need to use broad-spectrum antimicrobials.

In contrast to conventional testing techniques, which can require a sample to be cultured for 48-72 hours to identify the bacteria present, the new culture-free metagenomic whole genome sequencing pipeline (mWGS) could enable testing and treatment with the most appropriate antibiotics on the same day.

By limiting the use of ineffective antibiotics, the researchers hope their diagnostics pipeline could help reduce the risks posed by antimicrobial resistance.

To develop their new pipeline, the researchers focused on two common infections in dogs, urinary tract infections and skin infections, testing different DNA extraction kits and working to optimise bacterial lysis and the sequencing process.

After refining their methods, the researchers were able to identify the bacteria present within five hours. They were also able to determine with high sensitivity whether the bacteria were likely to resistant to antibiotics, achieving 95 per cent accuracy when testing urine samples.

Dr Natalie Ring, senior clinical researcher at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Roslin Institute, said: “Our method offers a swift way to diagnose bacterial infections and prescribe appropriate antibiotics within hours of patient testing.

“Following our work with skin and urinary infections in dogs, we are confident that this approach has potential for use across many animal species, and in humans, and has applications in other infection types.

“It could play a significant role in enabling responsible use of antimicrobial treatments and limiting antimicrobial resistance.”

The project received funding from Dogs Trust’s Canine Welfare Grant programme.

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, said: “The technology will significantly reduce the time taken to receive testing results, from several days to a matter of hours. This will allow for much quicker treatment of the canine patient and consequently a potential reduction in recovery time.”

The study has been published in the journal Microbial Genomics.


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