Adapting a single-cell growth assay for infectious disease agents

Technology overview

John Aitchison        Dr. John Aitchison

Current diagnostic tests for tuberculosis (TB) can take weeks, in part because culturing Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which causes TB, is slow and requires specialized facilities. Determining which antibiotics, if any, will work against the TB strain from a specific patient adds more weeks before effective treatment can begin.

Dr. Aitchison’s group is developing a system that could potentially identify the TB bacterium from a patient sample and simultaneously assess its antibiotic-resistance status in 24 hours. The test is based on the ODELAY system, for One-cell Doubling Evaluation of Living Arrays of Yeast. Growth rates, cell morphology, and susceptibility to drugs are measured by time-lapse microscopy, taking images of single cells on solid medium as they grow into colonies.

The assay was developed using yeast as a model organism. The computational method for processing the high-resolution imaging data of yeast colonies is publicly available. The ODELAY hardware and software have proven to be readily adaptable to other colony-forming organisms and can include disease agents such as the TB bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The ODELAY method can also be used to study heterogeneity in the growth dynamics of cell populations when they are influenced by genetic or epigenetic factors or changes in the growth environment. Dr. Aitchison is interested in partnerships to develop ODELAY as a diagnostic test for colony-forming pathogens.

Stage of Development

  • Preclinical in vitro

Partnering Opportunities

  • Collaborative research opportunity
  • Sponsored research agreement
  • Consultation agreement

Publications

  1. Herricks T, Mast FD, Li S, Aitchison JD. ODELAY: A Large-scale Method for Multi-parameter Quantification of Yeast Growth. J Vis Exp. 2017;125: e55879
  2. Herricks T, Dilworth DJ, Mast FD, Li S, Smith JJ, Ratushny AV, Aitchison JD. One-Cell Doubling Evaluation by Living Arrays of Yeast, ODELAY! G3. 2017;7: 279-288.

Learn more

Dr. Elizabeth Aylward, Director
Office of Science-Industry Partnerships
Seattle Children’s Research Institute
818 Stewart Street, Suite 603
Seattle, WA 98101
206-884-1065