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22 Feb 2023

Doherty researchers develop world-first AMR detection tool 

A new tool that could soon revolutionise the way we identify antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been developed by researchers at the University of Melbourne’s Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory (MDU PHL), located at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute).

abritAMR is an ISO-certified bioinformatics platform that is able to find AMR determinants from whole genome sequencing data and separates the identified genes into functionally relevant groups.   

To date, the lack of international standards in the AMR genomics space has been a limiting factor in the ability to compare outputs from different laboratories, especially with regards to how that information is applied in the clinical context.  

The development of this tool aims to bridge that gap and allow end-users, such as clinicians, nurses, and public health surveillance teams, to effectively utilise the results in a timely manner.  

Scientists also hope the tool will be used to further our understanding of the genomic and mechanistic basis for AMR.     

“AMR is becoming increasingly recognised as a serious threat to global health, so we hope that this technology can be adopted for use in public health and clinical sequencing laboratories to assist with AMR surveillance and in clinical applications,” said Dr Norelle Sherry, lead author of the article and Acting Deputy Director at MDU PHL. 

“A clear understanding of the genomic and mechanistic basis for AMR is needed to inform clinicians and public health teams, from the level of individual patients through to population-level surveillance. 

“By providing additional, timely data on acquired AMR genes or gene mutations that confer resistance, genomic sequencing has the potential to significantly enhance AMR surveillance and inform patient treatment beyond conventional susceptibility testing methods.” 

The abritAMR platform utilises the National Centre for Biotechnology Information’s (NCBI) AMRFinderPlus, as well as additional features that classify AMR determinants into antibiotic classes and provide customised reports. 

The abritAMR tool and validation datasets are publicly available to assist laboratories worldwide in harnessing the power of AMR genomics in professional practice. 

abritAMR is certified ISO15189 and ISO17025. 

Find out more: 

Peer review: Nature Communications
Funding: MDU PHL is funded by the Victorian Government Department of Health.