Antimicrobial susceptibility testing is essential for guiding the treatment of many types of bacterial infections, especially in the current context of rising rates of antibiotic resistance. The most commonly employed methods rely on the detection of phenotypic resistance by measuring bacterial growth in the presence of the antibiotic being tested. Although these methods are highly sensitive for the detection of resistance, they require that the bacterial pathogen is isolated from the clinical sample before testing and must employ incubation times that are sufficient for differentiating resistant from susceptible isolates. Knowledge regarding the molecular determinants of antibiotic resistance has facilitated the development of novel approaches for the rapid detection of resistance in bacterial pathogens. PCR-based techniques, mass spectrometry, microarrays, microfluidics, cell lysis-based approaches and whole-genome sequencing have all demonstrated the ability to detect resistance in various bacterial species. However, it remains to be determined whether these methods can achieve sufficient sensitivity and specificity compared with standard phenotypic resistance testing to justify their use in routine clinical practice. In the present review, we discuss recent progress in the development of methods for rapid antimicrobial susceptibility testing and highlight the limitations of each approach that still remain be addressed.
Keywords: antibiotic resistance; bacteria; susceptibility testing.