RNA signatures allow rapid identification of pathogens and antibiotic susceptibilities.
Barczak AK, Gomez JE, Kaufmann BB, Hinson ER, Cosimi L, Borowsky ML, Onderdonk AB, Stanley SA, Kaur D, Bryant KF, Knipe DM, Sloutsky A, Hung DT.
The Broad Institute, Cambridge, MA 02142.
With rising rates of drug-resistant infections, there is a need for diagnostic methods that rapidly can detect the presence of pathogens and reveal their susceptibility to antibiotics. Here we propose an approach to diagnosing the presence and drug-susceptibility of infectious diseases based on direct detection of RNA from clinical samples. We demonstrate that species-specific RNA signatures can be used to identify a broad spectrum of infectious agents, including bacteria, viruses, yeast, and parasites. Moreover, we show that the behavior of a small set of bacterial transcripts after a brief antibiotic pulse can rapidly differentiate drug-susceptible and -resistant organisms and that these measurements can be made directly from clinical materials. Thus, transcriptional signatures could form the basis of a uniform diagnostic platform applicable across a broad range of infectious agents.