A team from the Novo Nordisk Foundation centre for biosustainability, at Technical University of Denmark, have developed a fast and cheap method for profiling antibiotic resistant genes in the gut.

The potential threat to public health posed by antibiotic resistant bacteria is considerable. Research has shown that evolution of antibiotic resistance can be influenced by the microbiome. The gut microbiome may vary greatly from patient to patient. Sequencing the microbiome can provide insights into antibiotic resistance – specifically by profiling the genes which can cause resistance, the whole of which are known as ‘the resistome’.

Currently profiling the resistome is expensive and can take up to two weeks – during which time the gut could change composition as well as delaying treatment when it is critically needed. Researchers at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Biosustainability, at Technical University of Denmark have developed a method which they call poreFUME, which can provide accurate results within one to two days, quick enough to allow clinicians to prescribe a personalised antibiotic treatment.

As well as being swift, the team argue that their poreFUME method is cheaper than standard methods, as it utilises the MinION, a handheld DNA sequencer produced by Oxford Nanopore, which costs roughly $1000, considerably cheaper than standard machines.

The team ‘are absolutely convinced that quick resistome analysis may le ad to personal antimicrobial treatment in high-risk patients.’ What’s more, if their method is as cheap and effective as they believe, their method could pave the way ‘for better profiling of more patients and hopefully fewer cases of resistance.

The results of the research were recently published in the journal Nucleic Acid Research.