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Image of ID NOW courtesy of Abbott

Do Minutes Count in the Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance?

Rapid testing results could encourage more-appropriate use of antibiotics, and this flu season could put that theory to work.

Abbott claims its point-of-care ID NOW testing platform offers the fastest-ever time to influenza A and B test results. Formerly called Alere i, ID Now can provide results in 13 minutes or less, with positive results available in about five minutes.

Dr. Norman Moore, Abbott’s director of scientific affairs for infectious diseases, believes such a rapid result could help fight antimicrobial resistance. “Point-of-care testing enables clinicians to make more confident and informed treatment decisions during a single patient visit. Within minutes of administering a flu test, clinicians will know whether someone is infected with the flu virus or whether more tests are needed,” he told MD+DI. “Point-of-care testing is helping take the guesswork out of diagnosis and treatment. With an accurate diagnosis, clinicians know whether a person is suffering with a virus and that antibiotics won’t do any good. The [fewer] unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, the less overall resistance we will be fighting.”

An expert on influenza testing, Moore said that “point-of-care testing is essential when it comes to testing for the flu. By having the ability to diagnose the flu through rapid molecular point-of-care testing, providers can diagnose a patient within a clinically actionable timeframe. With a quick and accurate test result, patients diagnosed with the flu can begin treatment and recovery sooner. Studies have shown that the sooner someone with the flu begins an antiviral treatment, the better. Antivirals offer the greatest clinical benefit when administered within 48 hours following the onset of symptoms. And if the patient insists on antibiotics, the doctor can now describe in better detail why they won’t work.”

ID Now could potentially be expanded to other conditions. “The ID NOW is used for the rapid detection of respiratory illnesses, including influenza, strep A, and RSV,” said Moore. “The menu for the ID NOW will be expanded in the future. The platform is meant for diagnosing diseases where the answer, if given NOW, will have a significant impact on treatment decisions and overall patient health.”

The platform’s rapid results rely in part on the ability to store test components at room temperature. “The ID NOW utilizes proven isothermal molecular technology in an intuitive platform, providing the fastest highly sensitive molecular flu results in less than 13 minutes,” said Moore. “Traditional molecular tests, like the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), need to heat and cool the sample for the test to work. Changing temperatures can take time. By doing this with enzymes, ID NOW is able to deliver the fastest molecular result.”

Such technology also means that testing can be performed in a variety of locations and healthcare settings, such as walk-in clinics, urgent care centers, doctors’ offices, emergency rooms, and laboratories.

“Put simply, point-of-care testing leads to better health outcomes. Molecular diagnostic testing at the point of care offers benefits to patients, providers, and overall public health. As we enter flu season, this technology will play an important role in the detection of the flu virus,” said Moore.

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