Potential to inform antimicrobial prescribing and infection control
“Clinical metagenomic testing provides accurate pathogen detection and antibiotic resistance prediction in a same-day laboratory workflow, with assembled genomes available the next day for genomic surveillance,” the researchers say.
The technology “could fundamentally change the multi-disciplinary team approach to managing ICU infections.” It has the potential to improve initial targeted antimicrobial treatment and infection control decisions, as well as help rapidly detect unsuspected outbreaks of multi-drug–resistant pathogens.
Professor Edgeworth told this news organization that since the study, “secondary bacterial and fungal infections have increased, perhaps due to immunomodulatory treatments or just the length of time patients spend on ICU recovering from COVID-19. This makes rapid diagnosis even more important to ensure patients get more targeted antibiotics earlier, rather than relying on generic guidelines.”
The team “are planning to move respiratory metagenomics into pilot service under our Trust’s quality improvement framework,” he revealed. This will enable them to gather data on patient benefits.
“We also need to see how clinicians use these tests to improve antibiotic treatment, to stop antibiotics when not needed or to identify outbreaks earlier, and then how that translates into tangible benefits for individual patients and the wider NHS.”
He predicts that the technique will revolutionize the approach to prevention and treatment of serious infection in ICUs, and it is now planned to offer it as a clinical service for COVID-19 and influenza patients during the coming winter.
In addition, he said: “It can be equally applied to other samples such as tissue fluids and biopsies, including those removed at operation. It therefore has potential to impact on diagnostics for many clinical services, particularly if the progress is maintained at the current pace.”
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