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Fast DNA analyzes in the fight against resistant germs
Up to 15,000 people die in Germany every year because they get infected with dangerous pathogens in clinics. New DNA analyzes should now help to speed up treatment. Resistant germs can be determined in just four hours.
Four hours for the analysis The fight against antibiotic-resistant clinic germs is to be accelerated in the future by a plastic cartridge the size of a cigar box. These boxes are then placed in an analysis device in which the DNA of the pathogens is copied, multiplied and the type of germ and its resistance to medication are determined. As the managing director of the manufacturer Curetis AG in Holzgerlingen (Böblingen district), Oliver Schacht, said, this mini laboratory only needs a good four hours for its analysis. “The system is so simple that a hospital nurse can use it at three in the morning,” says Schacht. The analysis using the usual method (nutrient medium, petri dish, growth, assessment) took up to three days.
Up to 15,000 deaths a year from hospital germs Prof. Udo Reischl from the Institute for Microbiology and Hygiene at the University Hospital Regensburg, explained: “This is impractical for hospitals. Doctors often have to know quickly whether a patient is populated with highly resistant bacteria. ”Experts estimate that cases of infection in German hospitals are six figures a year. Depending on the information, there are 20,000 to 40,000 deaths, with the Federal Ministry of Health citing 7,500 to 15,000 cases. Experts speak of a global increase in multi-resistant bacterial strains. The resistant pathogens are spreading more and more through the use of non-specific broad-spectrum antibiotics. Schacht calls this "rapid evolution."
High costs The cartridge system should now also enable medical professionals to use drugs more precisely. According to Schacht, the diagnostic devices cost up to 55,000 euros. They are currently being given to the hospitals they are testing. The disposable cartridges cost 192 to 262 euros and the need for each intensive care unit is around 200 tests a year. According to Reischl, there are also significantly cheaper DNA analyzes. But he said: "Health insurance companies only want to introduce new technology if it is cost-neutral." Since a day in the intensive care unit could cost 2,000 to 2,500 euros, Schacht said that faster and more targeted treatments could save money. "Every hour that I can treat earlier shortens the time spent in bed," explained Peter Walger of the German Society for Hospital Hygiene. However, he also sees a risk in rapid diagnostics: “The medical reality is complex. Taking a sample on the bed and making a decision is far from it. The mere proof often says little. "
Seniors are particularly at risk The so-called MRSA germ ("Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus") is responsible for most infections. These are pathogens that are resistant to all common beta-lactam antibiotics available on the market, such as penicillin, and only respond to treatment with so-called “reserve antibiotics”. People with a weakened immune system and seniors are particularly at risk. Last year, two thirds of those affected were 70 years or older. Typical symptoms after infection range from inflammation, diarrhea, pneumonia, nausea and vomiting to blood poisoning. Not only the careless use of antibiotics, but also a lack of sterility is associated with the spread of such "super germs". (ad)
Image: Sebastian Karkus / pixelio.de