Encompass Consortium: Western Australia

This team successfully won a Discovery Award seed-funding grant to help further develop their ideas for their Longitude Prize application and create a diagnostic test  that helps solve the problem of global antibiotic resistance. Below we have asked them to explain their test and motivation for applying.

Please explain your test.

When you have an infection that is caused by a bacterial germ, the doctors have to decide which antibiotic medicine will work against those bacteria. This test will help them decide faster.

Please share a more detailed description of this work from a medical professional’s perspective.

We are developing rapid methods to determine antimicrobial susceptibility with the accuracy and speed needed to influence a physician’s initial choice of antibiotics. Our first generation flow cytometer-assisted antimicrobial susceptibility tests (FAST) match the accuracy of the current international standard in less than three hours, compared to 24 hours by the standard approach. We aim to miniaturise and automate the FAST method for near point-of-care use.

Why did you apply and what will the Discovery Award funding be used for in your work? 

To obtain funds to help cover the cost of independent validation of our FAST method.

The Discovery Award will go towards a multi-centre evaluation of the FAST assay, coordinated by the AMRHAI Laboratory at Colindale.

What difference will your work make in the long term with regards to antimicrobial diagnostics? 

Our work will enable evidence-based antibiotic prescribing by reducing the time to a reliable laboratory result. The provision of accurate susceptibility data in much shorter time will change the emphasis from tests to enable a change of antibiotic when resistance is detected to determining the options available that will work when initial antibiotic choices are made.

If there is a design for a prototype, please describe it and how it will work.

The specifications of our prototype FAST method have been described in detail in our recent paper [Mulroney KT et al. Scientific Reports, 15th May, 2017]. Performance improvements for other drug-bug combinations are in process. A flow cytometer chip for hand-held operation is under development.

Who is on your team?

  • Tim Inglis, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, Western Australia; School of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Western Australia;
  • Dr Christine Carson, Mr Jarrad Hall, Ms Xiao Huang, Ms Nicole Byzdyl, Mr Kieran Mulroney, School of Biomedical Sciences, UWA
  • Dr Barry Mandelawitz, Lab Without Walls Inc., Perth, Western Australia;
  • Dr Michael Ward, Cellular Analysis Division, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Eugene, OR, USA;
  • Prof Neil Woodford, Drs Matthew Elligton and Katie Hopkins, Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections Reference Unit, Public Health England, Colindale, UK;
  • Dr Astrid Wester and Umaer Naseer, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway;
  • Dr Tom Laws, Defence Science and Technology Laboratories, Porton Down, UK;
  • Dr Enoka Corea, Department of Microbiology, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

If you are interested in collaborating with this team, please email us.