Validation and optimization of MALDI-TOF for identification and tracking of clinically relevant Escherichia coli clones and antibiotic resistance mechanisms: a translational approach

The global dissemination of antibiotic resistant high-risk Escherichia coli clones with high virulence potential constitutes one of the major current challenges in clinical microbiology, which needs renovated approaches and global solutions.

This problematic has been traditionally addressed by an epidemiological approach based on typing strains encoding antibiotic resistance using genome-based methods, which are in most cases time-consuming, laborious, and expensive.

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is currently a simple, quick and low cost methodology successfully and routinely applied in different clinical microbiology laboratories for bacterial identification. Its potential to discriminate bacterial isolates at the subspecies level or to detect and differentiate particular antibiotic resistance mechanisms constitute novel and promising goals.

The work hypothesis of this project consists on that a combined approach of MALDI-TOF and conventional genotypic techniques for clonal diversity analysis and identification of antibiotic resistance genes might constitute a reliable tool to develop novel approaches to quickly identify, detect and track high-risk E. coli clones and subclusters or antibiotic resistance genes widely spread in the clinical setting, eventually applicable to other medically important bacterial species.

The global objective of this project is to evaluate with a translational approach the potential of MALDI-TOF for the detection and identification of major clinically relevant E. coli lineages with particular antibiotic resistance mechanisms.

This project is both timely and innovative because it settles in a high priority area within EU funding programs in infectious diseases research and consists in a new application of a technology already available in several clinical microbiological laboratories, which would allow identifying and tracking high-risk E. coli clones and/or particular antibiotic resistance mechanisms and virulence traits. These novel applications are of utmost importance to optimize diagnosis, guide therapeutic interventions and ultimately to improve the control of infectious diseases and patient management at individual level.

UFP participant:

Submitting entity:

  • Instituto de Ciências e Tecnologias Agrárias e Agro-Alimentares – Porto (ICETA-Porto/UP)

Project supported by:

  • Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (reference EXPL/DTP-SAP/1797/2013)