Latest advances in medicine show great importance of early diagnosis and evaluation of infectious diseases. Current methods of pathogen determination involve multiple processes within a clinical microbiology laboratory with extended periods of time being required for accurate determination of the pathogen responsible. As the time required performing the identification process increases, the recovery period may likewise increase. Methods to decrease these processing times would ultimately lead to improved efficacy of treatments, including decreased hospital stay length, decrease in resistant pathogens due to improved use of antibiotics, and overall decreased times to full recovery. Research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center has resulted in an automated process which receives a biological sample obtained through standard methods, and initiates pathogen growth and identification processes immediately upon sample collection. The process allows for intelligent, automated sampling and testing, including MALDI and mass spectrometry, and PCR detection techniques, that can identify over 98% of known pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, mycobacteria, archae, protists, prions, and acidobacter. This technology includes computer software that allows for sample tracking, collection of test results for a given sample, and automated reporting of test results to essential personnel.
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