The FAPIC (Fast Assay for Pathogen Identification and Characterization) project, funded by the European H2020 PHC10, is developing a new method for the fast and cost-effective diagnosis of life-threatening diseases. As ever more antibiotics are losing their effectiveness, the researchers are hoping to enable targeted therapy through rapid analysis of the pathogens.
Almost all known pathogens have developed resistance to antibiotics as a result of the increased and often inappropriate use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture. These pathogens can therefore not be treated with conventional drugs. Although these “super bacteria” are still rare in Europe, we are seeing a constant increase in infectious diseases that cannot be treated with available medication due to the massive spread of resistant pathogens in non-European countries.
The development of resistances can be prevented by targeted therapy. This however requires a thorough genetic analysis of the pathogen. The FAPIC project sets out to develop two diagnostic systems that can identify all known pathogens and associated antibiotic resistances with only one test. In addition to bacteria and viruses, such as the influenza virus or multi-resistant E. coli bacteria, the test should also be able to detect parasites and worm diseases.
One system will be fully automatic and is intended for use in larger hospitals and reference centres. The second, smaller system is designed for independent laboratories, medical practices and developing countries. The consortium of the five-year research project includes ten institutions from seven European countries and is led by the University of Lyon (UCBL). The total budget of 6 million euros provides sufficient resources to develop a cost-effective diagnostic test, which provides detailed information about the infection and potential treatment only three hours after sampling. The high cost pressure in the health system was taken into account in the planning and design of the diagnostic systems.
After 3.5 years of development, the diagnostic tests will finally be tested at university clinics in Belgium and Croatia as part of the FAPIC project. The consortium includes companies that are already present on the diagnostic market with their own products thus ensuring rapid market introduction.