But today, many of the microbes — microorganisms like bacteria — that cause common diseases and infections are evolving resistance to the drugs used to treat them. Scientists are now racing against the clock to find new ways to fight these drug-resistant superbugs with the CDC leading the charge.
The CDC’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge is an initiative that encourages organizations around the world — including governments, businesses and NGOs — to make commitments to fight antimicrobial resistance and help develop the next generation of life-saving antibiotics. HP joined the AMR challenge this year with a CDC pilot program in four labs around the country that use HP’s D300e Digital Dispenser BioPrinters to “print” pharmaceutical samples and accelerate the testing of new antibiotics that can fight resistant bacteria. This program means the labs can give their local hospitals the capability to immediately determine if a bacteria is resistant or susceptible to a new antibiotic.
HP recently developed a way to adapt its inkjet printer technology for biomedical research. HP’s inkjet technology enables printers to drop tiny dots of ink from multiple nozzles at rapid speed to quickly deposit the ink on paper. That same technology can be used in labs.
“The printer dispenses tiny drops that are one thousand times smaller in volume than researchers can dispense by hand,” explains Erica Squires, applications scientist at HP. “It allows them to take these manual processes that use large volumes of liquid and miniaturize and automate them by having the dispensing done by the printer.”
The HP D300e Digital Dispenser provides a way to automate the dispensing of research compounds into test tube arrays, so scientists can study complex drug combinations more accurately, in a fraction of the time. (In addition to the CDC’s antibiotics research, the D300e works for a wide range of research applications, from cutting-edge cancer drug research to discovering new treatments for HIV.) The printers will help the CDC labs quickly and accurately test new antibiotics that show potential against these resistant infections, with the goal of getting the best new therapies to the people that need them as quickly as possible.
“The CDC performed a validation of our instrument to ensure it performs equivalently to previous methods that they’ve tested before,” says Squires. “They passed all of those validations with flying colors.”