Pioneering diagnostics

Infectious diseases

In vitro diagnostics make it possible to identify the pathogenic agent (bacteria, fungi or viruses) responsible for an infectious disease and to select the appropriate treatment.

Infectious diseases are caused by an attack on the body by a microorganism (bacterium, virus, parasite, fungus, etc.). Every human being is host to tens of thousands of "useful" bacteria, which only become pathogenic (hazardous) in certain cases: in vulnerable individuals (e.g. immunocompromised patients) or in the event of an injury or surgical intervention.

The choice of the antibiotic to treat a bacterial infection is based on identifying the bacteria causing the disease and determining its sensitivity to antibiotics (antibiotic susceptibility testing).

In an increasing number of cases, bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. Therefore, in helping to identify suitable treatments, diagnostics play an ever more important role in the fight against infectious diseases.

The healthcare challenge

  • Every year, 17 million deaths are caused by infectious diseases, accounting for one third of the annual mortality rate worldwide.
    • Major healthcare issues threaten every country of the world:
    • The rapid development of new diagnostic tools and new treatments is essential to combat emerging diseases:
      • new influenza variants,
      • the development of bacterial resistance,
      • diseases transmitted by animals (zoonosis).
  • As a specialist in infectious diseases for 50 years, bioMérieux plays a major role in all these areas, offering an extremely wide range of diagnostics. For example, we pioneered the automated detection of antibiotic resistance mechanisms and antibiotic susceptibility testing.

Infectious diseases are directly responsible for 43% of deaths in developing countries, as opposed to 1% in industrialized nations.

The role of in vitro diagnostics

  • In the case of infectious diseases, in vitro diagnostic tests aim to detect and identify the infectious agent (virus, bacteria or parasite) responsible, to determine the illness precisely, to establish its origin, and to spot potential epidemics. Such tests are essential in guiding the appropriate treatment for the patient.
  • Using a range of samples (urine, saliva, blood, etc.), the laboratory carries out two types of tests:
    • Tests to detect and identify pathogens:
      • either using cultures to multiply the pathogens and thus increase the probability of detection,
      • or through the detection of the pathogens' genetic material using molecular tests or the determination of its chemical structure by analyzing the mass and charge of its ions using mass spectrometry.
    • Indirect tests to identify the immune response to the infection: screening for antibodies whose presence indicates contact with the virus, bacterium or parasite.