Are antibiotics making printers great…again?

Are antibiotics making printers great...again? | www.APHLblog.org

By Eric Ransom, APHL-CDC Antimicrobial Resistance Fellow

Let’s be honest: printers have never been that great. These frustrating devices turn what should be a simple office task into a game of chance. Is there paper? Did it jam? Can I get by without replacing the toner cartridge… again? Ugh! I personally cannot wait until this archaic technology sails off into the sunset. Goodbye frustration and hello forestation.

You can imagine my surprise when I heard a PRINTER could help fight one of the most significant public health threats of our time: antibiotic resistance. That’s right. The end of the antibiotic era looms, but hope lies with a printer!

To be fair, this is not your ordinary printer that puts ink to paper. This is a bioprinter that “prints” antibiotics! The technology ultimately helps clinicians decide which antibiotic is most likely to be effective in treating an infection. Prescribing the proper antibiotic is key to saving lives today and preserving antibiotics for tomorrow.

More specifically, the bioprinter makes antibiotic panels for broth microdilution susceptibility testing, a gold-standard method in clinical and public health microbiology. To make an antibiotic panel, the bioprinter dispenses minuscule amounts of antibiotics into a 96-well plate containing liquid that supports microbial growth. Microbiologists can then add a patient’s microbe to the plate and observe which antibiotic (or combination of antibiotics) inhibits growth. If an antibiotic inhibits growth on the plate, chances are good that it will also inhibit growth in the person. Results are shared with clinicians so they can prescribe the best antibiotic(s) to treat the infection. What makes the bioprinter unique is that it can easily make antibiotic plates with complex antibiotic combinations and new-to-market antibiotics. The latter is especially exciting given it can take years before new-to-market antibiotics are included on commercially available plates and systems found in most hospital laboratories.

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a pilot program to implement the bioprinter technology in the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network, a consortium of 56 public health laboratories that aims to rapidly detect and respond to antibiotic resistance. The pilot program already uses the bioprinter to offer expanded antibiotic susceptibility testing for hard-to-treat infections in four public health laboratories: Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory, Wadsworth Center Laboratories and Tennessee State Public Health Laboratory. This susceptibility testing is free, compliant with patient testing regulations, and available for all qualifying isolates from any hospital laboratory. The testing is also performed within three working days to quickly assist clinicians with therapeutic management.

The pilot program has already begun susceptibility testing with a new drug combination (aztreonam-avibactam) against Enterobacteriaceae producing a metallo-β-lactamase (MβL). These are some of the most resistant microbes, and there are very few effective treatment options. To qualify for this particular testing, isolates must be non-susceptible to all current β-lactam antibiotics (including either ceftazidime-avibactam or meropenem-vaborbactam). Moving forward, the pilot program will expand testing to include other highly resistant microbes and new-to-market antibiotics.

So how exactly does the bioprinter pilot program work in practice? Let’s say a hospital patient has symptoms of a serious infection. Samples from the patient are tested in the hospital’s laboratory to identify the responsible microbe and to determine possible treatment options. If the microbe is found to be highly resistant and clinicians are in need of additional treatment options, the microbe is sent to one of the four public health laboratories piloting the bioprinter program. Microbiologists there can use the bioprinter to print plates for testing the newest antibiotics to see what, if any, are effective in treating the patient’s infection. Results are then returned to clinicians where the patient is being treated.

Implementation of the bioprinter in the AR Lab Network has the potential to be truly impactful. First, clinicians are given a resource to find new, effective treatment options for their patients’ most resistant infections. Second, compiled data from this pilot program can be used to improve antibiotic prescribing, capture national antibiotic efficacy, help establish antibiotic breakpoints and even inform infection control and prevention practices.

The bioprinter pilot program is a remarkable step forward in the fight against antibiotic resistance. It is important to realize though that this crisis still requires comprehensive long-term intervention including discovery of new antibiotics, development of new diagnostics, and an unequivocal commitment to antibiotic stewardship in healthcare and beyond. In the short term, though, a printer might just be exactly what the doctor ordered.

The post Are antibiotics making printers great…again? appeared first on APHL Lab Blog.

The Markup is a new journalism venture to examine technology through data

Founded by Sue Gardner, the former head of the Wikimedia Foundation and Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson, journalists formerly for ProPublica, The Markup will aim to use data to help non-experts better understand everyday technologies that often go unchecked.

When Angwin and Larson worked together at ProPublica, their data-driven investigations included exposing discriminatory advertising practices at Facebook, bias in software that is used in criminal sentencing and algorithms that result in unfair car insurance pricing. They also uncovered evidence of domestic surveillance practices in the Snowden archives and revealed technology vulnerabilities at the President’s Mar-A-Lago country club.

“I’m excited to build a team with deep expertise that can really scale up and advance the work Jeff and I began at ProPublica,” Angwin said. “We see The Markup as a new kind of news organization, staffed with journalists who know how to investigate the uses of new technologies and make their effects understandable to non-experts.”

“People know that these new technologies are important and want to better understand their societal effects. We will help them do that,” said Larson. “The Markup will hold the powerful to account, raise the cost of bad behavior, and spur reforms.”

The venture is primarily backed by a $20 million donation from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and $2 million from the Knight Foundation. Amazing.

Looking forward to this.

Tags: ,

Using tech to fight the good fight

  Prior to arriving in New York for a new job (with my big dreams, oversized suitcase, and a friend’s couch to sleep on), I had a conversation with a woman I was connected to

Display without Delay: Search, Browse & Cite PLOS Articles with Quick Abstracts from Google Scholar

0000-0002-8715-2896 Working off your mobile device? No problem. We just made it easier to use your phone to find and scan PLOS articles. If you’re someone who’s out in the field more than in the

CES 2018: Tech Transforming Health and Medicine in the Year Ahead

0000-0002-8715-28960000-0002-0702-7236 Each January, members of the technology industry from around the world travel to Las Vegas, a resort city in the middle of the Mojave Desert, to take part in the world’s largest technology convention,

Tech generations, as seen through video source, music players, and internet access

In a fun piece by Reuben Fischer-Baum, reporting for The Washington Post:

In the past three decades, the United States has seen staggering technological changes. In 1984, just 8 percent of households had a personal computer, the World Wide Web was still five years away, and cell phones were enormous. Americans born that year are only 33 years old.

Here’s how some key parts of our technological lives have shifted, split loosely into early, middle and current stages.

There will always be a place in my heart that longs for the good ol’ days of my Walkman, modem sounds, and the phone-less outdoors. Tear.

Tags: , , ,

Open Data Projects Win Wellcome Trust, NIH and HHMI Open Science Prize

0000-0002-8715-28960000-0001-7318-5892 “Scientists can do much more with their own data if things are shared publicly and shared publicly quickly in order to have potential for real world impact.” -Trevor Bedford, lead of the Open Science

A proposal for law makers

I was apprised last night by an IT student that there is a concept in computing known as exponential back-off, in which calls to a service that fail have slower and slower repeat times until an acceptable level of calls are made (for example, to a database that might be under too great a load Read More...

Eavesdropping on seabirds

Ecologists trying to pin down the complex web of connections swirling around a particular species need to start with the basics, things like the size of the population, and whether or not its members are

Author Interview: Justin Adams on a New Digital Fossil Archive (Part 2)

baboon-495x320False-color image of the fossil baboon Papio angusticeps, from Adams et al. 2015. CC-BY. Yesterday, we started an interview with Justin Adams, senior author on a recent PLOS ONE paper discussing a newly available set of 3D