Projects presented by three researchers from the Faculty of Medicine of Laval University are among the six proposals selected by Génome Québec at the end of its competition Genomic solutions for the identification, characterization and monitoring of antimicrobial resistance and emerging pathogens. These three projects will benefit from financial support totaling $2.3 million over the next three years.
Arnaud Droit and his colleague Jennifer Geddes-McAlister, from the University of Guelph, will look at the bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. This type of infection is responsible for 14% of antibiotic prescriptions in Canada. Currently, it takes between 24 and 48 hours to identify the bacteria responsible for a urinary tract infection. In the meantime, the patient receives a broad-spectrum antibiotic which may prove ineffective and contribute to the emergence of resistant strains. The two researchers have developed a tool combining mass spectrometry and artificial intelligence which makes it possible to identify the bacteria responsible for a urinary infection in 2 to 4 hours. Thanks to the $1.25M grant from Génome Québec, they will improve this tool so that it can determine whether the strain present is resistant to certain antibiotics.
Roger C. Levesque and his colleague Judith Fafard, from the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec, will have a sum of $800,000 to continue the development of a tool, called MicroPaint. This computer tool, which uses artificial intelligence, allows rapid analysis of bacterial pathogens responsible for infections and pathogens resistant to antibiotics. In just a few clicks, it provides information on the microorganism responsible for an infection and the preferred treatment. The work of the two researchers will focus in particular on bacteria highly resistant to antibiotics. These multi-resistant bacteria pose a threat in hospitals and nursing homes, particularly for patients whose condition requires a respirator or blood catheter.
Jacques P. Tremblay will use the gene editing tool CRISPR to create a user-friendly device capable of rapidly detecting emerging respiratory pathogens. This instrument is primarily intended for healthcare settings that have limited means to identify the pathogens responsible for an infection, including hospitals located in the regions. The device will be small and simple enough to be used in a doctor’s office. Professor Tremblay received funding of $300,000 to carry out this project.