Which antibiotic resistance mechanisms can this test identify?
Hamprecht: We can easily identify the four most common carbapenemases in Germany: OXA-48, VIM, NDM and KPC. It is somewhat more difficult to detect IMP-type carbapenemases due to its many varieties. Having said that, this enzyme is not very common in Germany. The four common varieties make up circa 99 percent of all carbapenemases in Germany.
Can this method be applied in clinical practice?
Hamprecht: Essentially yes, although this was only a retrospective test. A prospective study would be practically impossible in Germany, because we thankfully do not have many types of carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae in this part of the world. It would take us a very long time to come up with an adequate number of cases. Having said that, there is a rise of carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae in Greece, Turkey, Italy or Asia for example. That is why we frequently see cases of CRE colonization or infection in patients who underwent medical treatment in these areas of high CRE prevalence. A prospective study would therefore best be conducted in these countries.
From your perspective, what are the biggest future challenges as it pertains to antibiotic resistance diagnostics?
Hamprecht: The fact that there is a dramatic increase in the emergence of antibiotic-resistance gram-negative bacteria such as E. coli and Klebsiella, while we have fewer and fewer effective antibiotics in our arsenal. That's why it is very important for us to identify antibiotic resistance at a more accelerated pace than in the past. There are a multitude of methods in the development stages, which promise even greater benefits.