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Minimal Genomics Lab for AMR Surveillance and Diagnostics in Provincial Low-income Settings

Iruka Okeke of the University of Ibadan, College of Medicine in Nigeria and Kat Holt of Monash University in Australia will set-up a remote laboratory that uses nanopore sequencing as a low-cost, portable method to monitor the spread of antimicrobial resistance in rural areas of Africa and combine it with genome editing tools for more rapid diagnosis and improved treatment. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when pathogens are able to survive treatments that previously would have killed them. Infection persists in these patients and spreads to others in the community, increasing both the risk of serious complications and the economic costs. To combat AMR, it needs to be tracked locally and quickly enough to inform treatment. However, traditional tracking methods are slow, and difficult to use in rural settings because of limited resources. Nanopore sequencing technology is a highly portable method of sequencing DNA that is suitable for resource-poor settings. They will setup a prototype minimal bacterial genomics lab at a provincial hospital laboratory in Africa, and use nanopore sequencing to catalog pathogens collected from patients and monitor AMR. They will also combine the sequencing with a genome editing tool - CRISPR-Cas - to enrich for known resistant pathogens and enable much faster diagnosis directly from blood or stool samples. Once optimized in the initial location, the remote lab can be recreated in other areas of Africa.

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