Vets can lead best practice with ground-breaking point of care UTI test - Veterinary Practice
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Vets can lead best practice with ground-breaking point of care UTI test

A new urine test, U-Treat, has been developed by British scientist Ron Turner and could change how vets approach cases of suspected urinary infections in dogs and cats

The technology is launching in veterinary practice and has potential to cross over into human medicine.

The patient-side test identifies urinary tract infection (UTI) and the best antibiotics to use to treat the condition, with the results available within minutes. It means that vets will no longer have to treat empirically while the urine sample is sent to an external laboratory or risk delaying treatment until the results are received. With increasing concern over antimicrobial resistance, the test can also help vets deliver treatment in line with best practice.

Some 14 percent of dogs will experience a UTI in their lifetime. UTIs occur more frequently in older cats and in younger cats can be difficult to differentiate from conditions such as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) where infection is not present.

Multi-drug resistance is increasing in UTIs in cats and dogs. Enterococci strains identified in canine urinary infections have been found to be resistant to three or more antimicrobials. In addition to improving first contact resolution of the case, the test also helps to support the responsible use of antibiotics.

U-treat is a two-part test. The first part of the test detects the presence of a urinary infection. The second part of the test looks at antibiotic susceptibility, rapidly showing the best choice of antibiotic, as well as identifying those that won’t work due to antimicrobial resistance. The tests can be run independently of each other and are simple to carry out.

Using the principals of bioluminescence, U-Treat removes host cell ATP before lysing bacterial cell walls to release bacterial ATP, which is then detected using a luminometer. The initial detection of infection test takes just five minutes and the susceptibility test takes 30 minutes.

Clinical evaluation of the test in cats and dogs was carried out at University of Tennessee in conjunction with Prof David Bemis of Cornell University. U-Treat demonstrates high levels of sensitivity (97.1 percent) and specificity (92 percent), compared to lab tests. US and European patents were granted in November 2018 and May 2019 respectively.

The test is currently validated for use in dogs and cats and is being investigated for use in horses. While the test will launch first in the veterinary world, it also has scope to cross over into human medicine where there is tremendous potential to use it in general practice, paediatric and geriatric care.

Mr Turner, who is currently in the process of completing his PhD, is CEO and Scientific Director of Test and Treat and says he is delighted to see the product launch in the UK, “We’ve already sent our first orders to the US and have being talking at veterinary conferences about the technology – so we know vets are keen to get access to this new diagnostic test. Fast, reliable and accurate results mean that it’s easier to put together a rational treatment plan that they can be very confident will work because they have the evidence.”

Test and Treat is based near Newmarket in Suffolk and orders for the test are now being taken from veterinary practices in the UK. Full training will be given and the desk-top equipment (incubator, luminometer and reader) required to run the test can be supplied.

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