Development of methods to rapidly track pathogen and antibiotic resistance profiles from skin sores in Northern Australia

Monitoring antibiotic resistance directly from skin sore swabs

Indigenous Australian children suffer the highest rates of impetigo (skin sores) in the world, which can result in serious immune complications including chronic kidney and possibly rheumatic heart disease. This proposal will develop laboratory methods to monitor skin sore pathogens and their resistance to antibiotics. In addition, we will establish methods to monitor skin sore pathogens and antibiotic resistance directly from clinical specimens. In comparison with traditional methods used in pathology laboratories, this direct approach is more rapid, less biased and more able to reveal complex information that may inform future clinical and public health approaches to combat this disease of large public health significance.

The project will also build capacity for the direct analysis of all microbial genes in specimens that should have application to many other aspects of the HOT NORTH program. This entails testing recently developed computer methods for analysing the large amounts of genetic data generated in this approach, and also testing methods for selective purification of DNA from microbes (as so to avoid analysing human DNA which in this context is not useful), and for optimizing methods for analysing very small DNA samples. This is a collaboration between Telethon Kids Institute, Menzies School of Health Research and the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.


  • Dr Tim Barnett

  • Associate Professor Steven Tong

  • Telethon Kids Institute

  • June 2017 - June 2018

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