Rapid and reliable diagnosis of bacterial prosthetic joint infections and osteosynthesis-material infections is crucial for the successful treatment of patients with such infections. Current diagnostic methods for detecting bacterial infections often do not give unambiguous results. This leads to late initiation of treatment in these patients.
Diagnosis with bacteria-specific fluorescent tracers
In his PhD research, Jorrit Schoenmakers discovered that a prosthetic joint infection can be diagnosed in a laboratory setting through arthroscopy (a minimally invasive surgical procedure) by using fluorescent molecules that specifically bind to Gram-positive bacteria. Moreover, it is shown that bacteria can also be visualized directly on infected osteosynthesis materials using fluorescent tracers.
In another setup, by using so-called ‘smart-activatable’ tracers, the presence of bacteria can be efficiently detected in infected synovial fluid samples from patients as well as blood culture samples.
Treating infections with light-activatable antibiotics
Schoenmakers also showed in vitro that it is possible to treat bacterial infections with light-activatable antibiotics. Altogether, these findings shed new light on targeted methods that address the current unmet clinical needs for accurate detection and treatment of implant-associated infections.
He expects that bacteria-targeted optical imaging of bacterial infections with fluorescent tracers can greatly improve the perioperative diagnosis of bacterial infections. Preparation for the first clinical trial with patients is now under way.
Schoenmakers made a short video on his research.
Jorrit W. A. Schoenmakers (Nijmegen, 1992) studied Medicine at the University of Groningen. He conducted his research at the GUIDE research institute of the UMCG under supervision of Jan Maarten van Dijl, Paul Jutte and Marleen van Oosten.
He now works as resident not in training (ANIOS) in the Emergency Department at Isala Hospital in Zwolle.