Fast-tracking the fight against disease

Fast-tracking the fight against disease

Faster diagnosis means quicker treatment and recovery for people suffering potentially dangerous illnesses like measles or influenza.

Our researchers collaborated with LBT Innovations to create the world’s first artificial intelligence microbiology screening technology for use in pathology laboratories.

The Automated Plate Assessment System (APAS) attracted huge international interest for its ability to dramatically speed up diagnosis.

Lead researcher Professor Anton van den Hengel says it gives humanity a powerful new weapon in the fight against infectious disease.

“APAS enables doctors to order more tests, giving them more information, sooner. It will allow regional hospitals or those in developing countries to run their own tests without having to ship samples to a central lab. That saves a lot of time, and potentially many lives.”

Incubating culture plates to promote growth of microbes is an essential part of any microbiology investigation. APAS automates screening of these plates, taking high-quality images, analysing and interpreting any microbial growth, matching this against key patient data and presenting a diagnosis. It then records the results to continually update its own knowledge base.

APAS also removes plates that test negative, enabling microbiologists to focus on the positive and improve accuracy.

LBT CEO Brent Barnes believes the system will ultimately mean faster recovery for millions of people all over the world.

“More accurate testing will see patients getting the right treatment earlier and spending less time in hospital.”

Co-founder of LBT Luisa Guthrie now chairs Clever Culture Systems, the joint-venture company bringing APAS to market.

The business embedded a University of Adelaide computer scientist in the internal APAS project team, which she says was key to its success.

“It worked so well, particularly in terms of communication flow, that we had the expert stay with us throughout prototype development and right up to United States Food and Drug Administration compliance.”Building on the foundation laid with APAS, the University of Adelaide and LBT will now jointly develop three more related medical devices using AI image-analysis technology.

Tagged in Health and biotech, diagnosis, ai, medical, microbiology