I love medical success stories and new medical technology.
...a new genomic test that can offer much faster results by rapidly sorting through the DNA in a blood sample and picking out the pathogen most likely making a patient sick. It is part of a rapidly growing new generation of lab tests under development that could revolutionize the way doctors diagnose and treat infections.
The usual method, based on growing and analyzing germ cultures in a lab, has barely changed since the 1880s, when Julius Petri came up with a way to grow germs in a gelatinous bed of algae set between two nesting discs of glass.
The new genomic diagnostics work by matching the DNA or RNA of microbes in a patient’s bodily fluid against vast databases of all known bacteria, viruses or fungi that can sicken humans. Many of the tests produce results in hours, a marked contrast to traditional cultures, which can take days or even weeks to get results — when they work at all. The turnaround in getting test results has become even more urgent with the coronavirus epidemic in China that is spreading around the world.
“We’re still using 19th-century technology for most microbiology diagnostics and they just don’t work well for many patients,” said Kevin Outterson, a professor of health law at Boston University and the executive director of CARB-X, a nonprofit focused on combating antimicrobial resistance. “These new technologies advance what we do by more than a century.”
Dr. Amir Khan, an infectious disease specialist, sent Mr. Springer’s blood to Karius, a San Francisco-area company that is among a dozen American start-ups developing genomic diagnostic tests.