A paradigm shift in diagnosis

Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) is a powerful technique to study the composition of various samples. It is however particularly promising in the context of diagnostics based on bodily fluids, such as blood and its derivatives (e.g. serum, plasma). Minimally invasive, this approach combined with its versatility, low cost, simplicity and high speed fit perfectly the requirements for a diagnostic tool. For point-of-care testing, the use of ATR-FTIR enables the analysis of blood in the aqueous state, which represents an enormous advantage by minimising the sample preparation as well as the ability to obtain results within minutes.

ATR-FTIR spectroscopy based diagnosis enables us to detect anomalies in the blood composition, such as high glucose, unusual secondary structures of protein or presence of foreign organisms. Our group focuses primarily on the application of ATR-FTIR to point-of-care testing for:

  • the bacterial and fungal pathogens that cause sepsis - direct detection from whole blood in under one hour

  • parasites (malaria and babesia)

  • viruses (Hepatitis B & C)

  • Antibiotic Susceptibility Test (AST)

  • analytes such as glucose and urea

The presence of organisms, such as parasites, viruses, bacteria or fungi can be detected through their specific biochemical signatures, related to the presence of nucleic acids as well as unique lipid and protein compositions. The diversity of individual organisms (and their spectral signatures) creates a potential for rapid high-precision detection, allowing us to determine not only the presence and type of a foreign organism (malaria parasite, virus, bacteria, fungi etc.) but even their specific characteristic (e.g. Gram(+) and Gram(-) bacteria, resistance to antibiotics, etc.). Our current research projects are run with extensive collaboration from Monash University and Monash Health, The Alfred Hospital, The Burnet Institute and the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory.

A rapid test for Sepsis

BTR’s lead product will be a rapid test known as ‘Aimalux’ for the direct detection of the bacteria and fungi that cause sepsis, a major global health problem affecting 18 million people annually and killing more than 6 million. The current gold standard blood culture test for sepsis is too slow and inaccurate to help clinicians make therapeutic decisions and contributes to the prescription of unnecessary antibiotics and the rise of antibiotic resistance. If BTR’s test changes the outcome of 1% of sepsis patients globally it will save 164 lives every day

Anti-Microbial Resistance: AST

In addition to detection our technique allows rapid AST testing of bacterial species for susceptible and resistant strains in around 2 hours compared to 24 hours for the current gold standard test.