As the QuickFISH™ system continues to build a formidable reputation as the method of choice for the rapid identification of pathogens from blood cultures, the versatile PNA-FISH® technology on which it is based continues to demonstrate its flexibility and utility. Although PNA-FISH has been superseded by QuickFISH for diagnostic use with blood cultures, it is still ideally suited to a number of research applications in the field of medical microbiology, particularly three dimensional visualisation of microorganisms in biofilms.
Biofilms have been shown to have major significance in a number of infections and related conditions of medical and public health interest. These include;
- endocarditis (heart valve tissue)
- sinusitis (nasal polyps and turbinate mucosa)
- cystic fibrosis (airway and lung tissue)
- pneumonia (lung tissue)
- device related infections, catheter sections, and indwelling devices
- tooth decay (dental plaque)
- water quality (faecal bacteria in water courses)
- chronic wounds (wound infections and non-healing)
The physiology and pathogenic potential of micro-organisms living as part of a community of organisms in biofilms associated with these have, unsurprisingly, developed increasing concern and interest and are attracting significant attention among medical microbiologists as a target for vigorous research. A fuller understanding of biofilm formation and its role in infectious processes is essential to permit the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for treating critical infections.
Because PNA-FISH provides whole cell visualisation of bacteria and fungi, the technology is ideally suited for understanding the interaction between micro-organisms in complex biofilms. PNA-FISH is ideal for
- quantification of micro-organisms
- genus and species identification
- analysis of three dimensional spatial distribution of cells
- visualisation of a microbial community
This article was published previously in Alpha Laboratories’ Leading Edge Newsletter – Summer 2014.