Rapid, culture-free detection of Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia

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S. aureus bacteremia (SAB) is a common condition with high rates of morbidity and mortality. Current methods used to diagnose SAB take at least a day, and often longer. Patients with suspected bacteremia must therefore be empirically treated, often unnecessarily, while assay results are pending. In this proof-of-concept study, we describe an inexpensive assay that detects SAB via the detection of micrococcal nuclease (an enzyme secreted by S. aureus) in patient plasma samples in less than three hours. In total, 17 patient plasma samples from culture-confirmed S. aureus bacteremic individuals were tested. 16 of these yielded greater nuclease assay signals than samples from uninfected controls or individuals with non-S. aureus bacteremia. These results suggest that a nuclease-detecting assay may enable the rapid and inexpensive diagnosis of SAB, which is expected to substantially reduce the mortality and morbidity that result from this condition.




Burghardt, E. L., Flenker, K. S., Clark, K. C., Miguel, J., Ince, D., Winokur, P., … McNamara, J. O. (2016). Rapid, culture-free detection of Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia. PLoS ONE, 11(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0157234

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