Optical, molecular and serological multiparameter analyses for clinical microbiological diagnostics and epidemiology
Focus: Detection and understanding of antibiotic resistance of pathogenic bacteria
Assay-based research activities using state-of-the-art molecular technologies, such as digital PCR, real-time PCR, Next-Generation-Sequencing (NGS), microarray-based and isothermal analytical methods
Microarray-based multiparameter serology using antibody arrays, antigen arrays and peptide arrays
Bioinformatics for molecular assay design and evaluation of corresponding data (e.g. NGS)
Translation of existing and new research results into real available products in cooperation with corresponding partners
Building a "bridge" between academic research and the development of new innovative assays using systems technology and product development and realization with cooperating companies in the diagnostics industry.
The Ehricht group started its work in January 2019 and previously, over the past few years, had gained important insights into the development and application of various molecular methods for the detection, epidemiology and understanding of pathogenic bacteria and their antibiotic resistance (MRSA, ESBL, CRE, VRE, etc.). In particular, microarray-based methods and specially developed platforms were used (left figure), which in their entire breadth covered bioinformatic assay design, surface chemistry, manufacturing, test development, image and data evaluation as well as specific applications. Special attention was paid to the implementation of these research results into real existing products and their evolution. On the other hand, the main focus was on developing strategies and procedures for optimal sample preparation and implementing them in complex processes.
The MinION platform developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies (Oxford, UK) with its pore technology is regarded as the next step in next-generation sequencing (right). The MinION technology is based on membrane-bound protein nanopores. If a voltage is applied to this membrane, an ion current is generated through the pores. If a DNA strand passes through the pore, voltage changes occur, which are measured and later converted into nucleotides. Up to 400 nucleotides per second can be measured per pore, which can lead to outputs of up to two gigabases per genome. Single reads can reach lengths of 50,000-100,000 bases. Therefore it is possible to analyze and characterize bacterial genomes easily and quickly.
What makes the platform so attractive is its comparably low price and compact size. The Ehricht group therefore wants to use this technology to develop new groundbreaking assays on a molecular basis. However, other methods of next-generation sequencing (e.g. MySeq, Illumina) are also being established and applied.