New Test in Development for Identification of Orthopedic Infections
06 Mar 2012

Abbott has announced that it is to collaborate with Genetics Laboratory, Inc. on the development of a molecular diagnostic test to rapidly detect microorganisms that cause orthopedic infections. The new assay will be designed for use on the PLEX-IDTM automated microbial identification system.

PLEX-ID is a high-throughput system which offers rapid and broad identification of bacteria, viruses, fungi and certain parasites; as well as information on drug resistance, virulence, and strain type. The system uses a combination of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for gene amplification, and mass spectrometry for organism classification. It can rapidly identify a broad variety of microorganisms and is capable of generating results within five to six hours. The PLEX-ID is currently intended for non-diagnostic use in the U.S. but assays are currently being developed for future clinical diagnostic use.

Bacterial infections which develop following hip and knee replacements can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Bacteria such as MRSA form slimy colonies known as biofilms in artificial joints and can be resistant to antibiotics. Biofilms are difficult to identify using traditional bacterial culture test methods, the organisms club together and do not grow well for positive identification.

"Bacteria, particularly antibiotic-resistant species such as MRSA, are very dangerous in orthopedic patients because the bacterial colonies attach to the artificial surfaces of the implants," said Gerhard Maale, M.D., an orthopedic oncologic surgeon and an expert in orthopedic infections in the Dallas-Ft.Worth area. Dr. Maale will also serve as the medical director for the Abbott-GenLab collaboration.

"A molecular diagnostic test designed to detect microorganisms that cause orthopedic infections, running on the PLEX-ID, could have the ability to determine which pathogens are responsible for an infection while assessing the genetic composition and potentially antibiotic resistance," Dr. Maale said. "This could be a major step forward in diagnosing and treating serious infections in artificial joint recipients, with the potential to provide important information to physicians that they could use to save treatment costs and improve the quality of life for these patients."

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Sonia Nicholas
Clinical Diagnostics Editor