Advancing artificial intelligence and digital plate reading for microbiology

COPAN is leading the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital culture plate reading in clinical microbiology. A groundbreaking study entitled “Automated Detection of Streptococcus pyogenes pharyngitis using COLOREX Strep A CHROMagar and WASPLab Artificial Intelligence Chromogenic Detection Module Software” was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

The study is the first-in-its class peer-reviewed publication on PhenoMATRIX used with COLOREX Strep A culture media for the automatic detection of Group A Strep (GAS). Group A Strep (GAS) pharyngitis is an infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, responsible for 20 to 30 percent of sore throats in children between 5 and 15 years old. Pharyngeal swab samples were collected from pediatric patients with suspected pharyngitis at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). The samples were analyzed using COPAN’s Chromogenic Detection Module (CDM), which is part of the PhenoMATRIX suite of AI algorithms.

The Chromogenic Detection Module is designed to accurately detect and differentiate Strep A on chromogenic agar, allowing the laboratory to provide faster results than with traditional culture methods and manual reading. Any suspected positive Group A Strep growth detected by the algorithm was confirmed by Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization-Time of Flight (MALDI-ToF) mass spectrometry. All specimens in this study were collected using COPAN ESwab, which enabled specimens to be processed simultaneously using a molecular assay.

The study concluded that “PhenoMATRIX CDM software and COLOREX Strep A Agar can improve detection of GAS from throat specimens and compared favorable to molecular testing.” This breakthrough publication is the first of its kind using PhenoMATRIX with the novel COLOREX chromogenic media for the automatic detection of Group A Strep. It reflects the advancements in AI technology occurring in microbiology labs and the way they are impacting lab medicine.

Microbiology is one of the most labor-intensive disciplines within the clinical laboratory field, and its role is of vital importance to overall healthcare. It is well established that laboratory professionals are asked to do more with fewer resources and to constantly demonstrate the value of laboratory medicine in clinical outcomes.

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