Canterbury Health Laboratories (CHL) is the first in New Zealand to begin
medical diagnostic testing of bacteria and yeasts with revolutionary
The team in the CHL Microbiology Laboratory have begun using a MALDI-TOF
(matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation time of flight mass spectrometry)
for the identification of bacteria and yeasts on all suitable medical diagnostic
samples entering the laboratory.
Dr Anja Werno, Microbiology Medical Director, says the machine works by
firing a laser at bacteria and then measuring the protein fingerprint the
bacteria leave behind, which is then matched against a library of almost 4000
known bacteria and yeasts.
“The new MALDI-TOF system is enabling the laboratory to cut an average
identification time from around 22 hours down to an average of 50 minutes in
routine situations. In urgent situations the identification of a grown bacterium
can be achieved in as little as five minutes,” Dr Werno says.
“What this means is we will be identifying bacteria much faster, in a more
accurate manner and at a far cheaper cost than with previous traditional and
sometimes inefficient methods.”
Dr Werno says this machine will improve patient care and management in cases
of suspected bacterial infection because of faster availability of full
bacterial identifications, ensuring the correct treatment is given.
“This machine is revolutionising microbiology globally and is the most ground
breaking development in this area of microbiological diagnostics that I’ve seen
in my lifetime,” she says.
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