Manchester Metropolitan University

Impact Case Study

Transforming the rapid diagnosis of deadly microbial infections

Commercial applications have been developed for this Manchester Met discovery of a new method of microbial identification.

The problem

With antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, time is of the essence in diagnosis - identification needs to be fast and accurate to prevent serious infectious disease spreading.

What we discovered

A Manchester Met research team developed a new method for identifying bacteria using intact bacterial cells, called MALDI-TOF-MS (matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation, time of flight mass spectrometry). This enables the organisms responsible for infection to be rapidly identified, reducing diagnosis times by 24-48 hours.

Why it matters

It is literally lifesaving. Faster, more accurate diagnosis of microbiological conditions, saves valuable time and consequently lives.

The huge patient benefits and clear potential to save many lives also has economic benefits. MALDI is cost-effective as it cuts down on the time and resource needed to take decisions; and businesses selling the solution have estimated the global market in excess of £10bn. Clinical approval has been secured for the US market, which will lead to even greater healthcare and economic applications and impacts.

“I have worked with MALDI for many years and have seen it become a major technological innovation which has had a major impact in medical and public health microbiology.”

Lead Scientist, Public Health England.