Pathogen Detection

Metafer in Microbiology

Automated Imaging and Identification of Bacteria and Parasites.

Microscopy is an inherent part of many microbiological examinations. Due to the variety of target objects (Gram stained bacteria, microbacteria, various parasites, fungi) many different microscopic techniques (e.g., brightfield, fluorescence, phase contrast, darkfield microscopy, and possibly even combinations of the above) and magnifications are required. On the other hand the often very high number of samples, the sometimes tedious scoring procedure, and the demand for documentation make unattended and standardized imaging highly desirable.

Metafer, the renowned slide scanning platform of MetaSystems, combines the flexibility for assessing many different sample types with the reliability required in a professional, routine clinical environment. Images of highest quality are generated unattended, fast, and with highest dependability. Since Metafer is based on a fully featured research microscope, users have free choice of any technique the microscope offers.

Pathogen Identification

Rapid and accurate identification of infections is essential for early and targeted antimicrobial therapy. Several new technologies arose in the last decades (e.g., Maldi-TOF or PCR), however, these methods are expensive to implement, and there are also limitations in the diversity of identifiable pathogens. On the other hand increasing case numbers, the need for cost savings, and higher severity of cases make new solutions highly desirable.

Download the White Paper "DMI Technology"MetaSystems Indigo, the new sister company of MetaSystems, takes pride in presenting a new approach for multiple pathogen identification from a variety of sample materials at unmet speed and low costs. The new solution is based on Direct Multiplex Imaging (DMI). The DMI technology uses molecular DNA-beacons as probes for the identification of pathogens. DNA-beacons are hairpin-shaped structures that consist of a probe sequence (loop) and 3’ and 5’ ends (stem) that carry a fluorophore and a quencher. The loop sequence is complementary to a target sequence. When hybridization occurs, the stem opens and a fluorescent signal is emitted that can be detected by fluorescence microscopy. Unbound probes remain in the closed con firmation and the signal is quenched. With the combination of a test procedure to fluorescently label specific bacteria and a fully automated slide analysis system, it is possible delivering a positive identification of a problem causing pathogen in 35 minutes. MetaSystems Indigo is the first company to combine a novel DNA-based hybridization technology with automatic assay evaluation to enable a high throughput patient sample processing. The system allows detection of single as well as multiple infections in one sample, and scans up to 800 samples in high throughput mode. Results are automatically recorded, and images of samples are acquired and displayed together with the results data.

Derived to fit the specific needs of clinicians, all assays are designed to detect and identify those pathogens having a direct impact on the clinical decision making process:

  • Blood Cultures
    Positive blood culture bottles are analyzed, with the focus on the most relevant Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Covering the clinically most relevant pathogens in combination with an immediate identification within 35 minutes can provide a solution in 96% of the blood culture cases.
  • Respiratory Samples
    Native respiratory samples like sputum, tracheal or bronchial aspirates and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) are analyzed prior to sub-culturing with special focus on those pathogens having a high clinical relevance for hospital-acquired pneumonia. The information derived from this identification and differentiation can lead to a targeted antibiotic treatment decision in up to 70% of the cases. In the remaining 30% of the analyzed cases, the DMI technology can immediately lead to a more specialized and targeted testing. Therefore, the work-up procedures are optimized and streamlined.

The DMI system includes intrinsic controls, and in addition the intact cell morphology can be analyzed to further strengthen the validity of the result obtained. The automated analysis of slides prepared for microscopy eliminates the potentially error prone evaluation step of examining slides using fluorescence microscopy. The use of software algorithms and the use of preset thresholds allow unambiguous and unbiased evaluation of the samples. Additionally to the time saving by analysis automation physicians benefit from a comprehensive documentation of images and quantitative data. The use of the scanning system and new evaluation algorithms will facilitate more complex assays such as phenotypic evaluations for antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST), which will be a further benefit in the diagnosis of bacterial infections.

Gram Imaging

The analysis of Gram samples involves focused inspection of many fields of view under the microscope. Combined with the high number of cases in a routine microbiology laboratory, microbiologists often are spending a considerable portion of their daily working time at the microscope. Metafer's capability to digitize samples in short time and with highest quality can free the researcher from the microscope. With Metafer being used as a routine 24/7 image server, the analysis of Gram samples can now be done on a computer screen, and it does not even have to be done in the laboratory: images can be loaded to the office PC or to a computer at home. Furthermore, images can be uploaded to VMD, the server-based internet database for Metafer images, and shared with colleagues everywhere in the world.

Owners of the automated specimen processor WaspLAB™ from Copan can use the Metafer images to display them side by side to the culture dish images and to other case metadata. If such a system generates bar codes for the slides, a seamless integration of digital Gram images is easily conceivable. MetaSystems' various tools for decentralization of work facilitate extremely streamlined multi-user installations.

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