Single-cell pathogen diagnostics for combating antibiotic resistance

Hui Li, Kuangwen Hsieh, Pak Kin Wong, Kathleen E. Mach, Joseph C. Liao, Tza Huei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Bacterial infections and antimicrobial resistance are a major cause for morbidity and mortality worldwide. Antimicrobial resistance often arises from antimicrobial misuse, where physicians empirically treat suspected bacterial infections with broad-spectrum antibiotics until standard culture-based diagnostic tests can be completed. There has been a tremendous effort to develop rapid diagnostics in support of the transition from empirical treatment of bacterial infections towards a more precise and personalized approach. Single-cell pathogen diagnostics hold particular promise, enabling unprecedented quantitative precision and rapid turnaround times. This Primer provides a guide for assessing, designing, implementing and applying single-cell pathogen diagnostics. First, single-cell pathogen diagnostic platforms are introduced based on three essential capabilities: cell isolation, detection assay and output measurement. Representative results, common analysis methods and key applications are highlighted, with an emphasis on initial screening of bacterial infection, bacterial species identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Finally, the limitations of existing platforms are discussed, with perspectives offered and an outlook towards clinical deployment. This Primer hopes to inspire and propel new platforms that can realize the vision of precise and personalized bacterial infection treatments in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
JournalNature Reviews Methods Primers
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology

Cite this