UMC partners to test a staph bacteria detector - - Jackson, MS

UMC partners to test a staph bacteria detector

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Roslyn Anderson - bio | email

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – A recent 3 On Your Side investigation revealed the detection of staph bacteria on some local theater head and arm rests.

That lab testing was conducted at University Medical Center.

Monday the state's largest medical facility and research center entered a partnership with a California company to test new technology that would speed up the detection of the deadly bacteria.

University of Mississippi Medical Center scientists found the flesh killing anti-biotic methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria or MRSA on samples from various metro area theaters.

Now researchers have entered a partnership to do clinical testing of new technology that developers QuantaLife say will cut down on the time it takes to identify the strain and treat the patient.

"This is really important for Mississippi and really important for our medical center," said UMC Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. John Hall.

QuantaLife entered a five year $1.2 million dollar agreement with UMC to test the bio tech company's prototype device.

Company officials said the machine is called a Polymerase Chain Reaction or PCR.

It is designed to replicate nucleic-acid sequences of the sample DNA and looks for telltale sequences of the known culprit's DNA.

"This is the highest precision genetic testing platform in the world right now. We're looking forward to using it not just for infectious diseases but for as said in the grant opening up for cancer and a number of other applications," said QuantaLife CEO Dr. Bill Colston.

"Technology as it's being applied here for this particular grant is really important as a clinical tool for the detection of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus. So we're delighted to partner with you. We promise we will be good partners in Mississippi and look forward to working with you very closely over the next few years as you develop this technology," added Hall.

Experts said current technology costs at least $20 per sample and in some cases takes up to three days to process.

"This technology has the promise of being able to turn around these specimens for about an hour from the time that the patients been admitted. It only costs about $2 per patient," said Dr. Skip Nolan Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases.

According to researchers, the MRSA bacteria cause 60% of all staph infections in hospital patients.

"This would be something that would help us when we see things coming in from the community, people who may have been infected out in the community, may have been colonized in the community and then they bring it here to the hospital," said Dr. Donna Sullivan, Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases.

If effective the QuantaLlife machine could eventually be used to screen all hospital admissions for the bacteria.

The company received a $7 million dollar grant from the National Institute of Biological Imaging and Bioengineering for the studies which are scheduled to begin at UMC in mid December.

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