As antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose a growing public health threat, the Weissman lab is studying how these bacteria emerge and developing innovative ways to identify and monitor them.
Developing Faster, More Affordable Ways to Identify E. coli Strains
Each year, Escherichia coli strains infect people worldwide with a variety of serious infections, including urinary tract and bloodstream infections. While identifying these strains is a critical part of stemming E. coli outbreaks, the standard identification method – called multiple locus sequence typing (MLST) – can be time-consuming and expensive.
The Weissman lab and its collaborators developed a faster, more economical method – a two-locus typing known as CH typing – of identifying E. coli strains. This new method could improve public health officials’ ability to respond to E. coli outbreaks as quickly as possible.
Tracking Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae
More and more bacteria are becoming resistant to the class of antibiotics known as carbapenems. Infections from these bacteria, which include E. coli and Klebsiella, are especially common in hospitals, where they can create serious complications for patients already suffering from other illnesses. Increasing numbers of carbapenem-resistant infections are also cropping up outside of hospitals, raising the odds of an outbreak that affects larger populations.
The Weissman lab is part of a team that’s developing an Internet-based surveillance system to monitor these outbreaks worldwide. This system, which is online at CaseFinder.org, is intended to help contain new outbreaks by giving public health officials real-time information about when and where outbreaks appear and spread.
Scott Weissman, MD, is assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Washington. He received his medical training at the University of California, Irvine, completed a pediatrics residency at Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles, and completed a fellowship in pediatric infectious disease at Seattle Children’s.