The rapid evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens is driving the development of innovative, rapid antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) tools as a way to provide more targeted and timely antibiotic treatment. We have previously presented a stress-based microfluidic method for the rapid determination of antibiotic susceptibility in methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus
(MSSA) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
(MRSA). In this method, stress is used to potentiate the action of antibiotics, and cell death is measured as a proxy for susceptibility. The method allows antibiotic susceptibility to be determined within an hour from the start of the antibiotic introduction. However, the relatively low dynamic range of the signal (2–10% cell response) even with high antibiotic concentrations (10–50 µg/mL) left room for the method’s optimization. We have conducted studies in which we varied the flow patterns, the media composition, and the antibiotic concentration to increase the cell death response and concordantly decrease the required antibiotic concentration down to 1–3 µg/mL, in accordance with the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute’s (CLSI) guidelines for AST breakpoint concentrations.
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