A crowd of BashTheBug volunteers reproducibly and accurately measure the minimum inhibitory concentrations of 13 antitubercular drugs from photographs of 96-well broth microdilution plates

Tuberculosis is a respiratory disease that is treatable with antibiotics. An increasing prevalence of resistance means that to ensure a good treatment outcome it is desirable to test the susceptibility of each infection to different antibiotics. Conventionally, this is done by culturing a clinical sample and then exposing aliquots to a panel of antibiotics, each being present at a pre-determined concentration, thereby determining if the sample isresistant or susceptible to each sample. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of a drug is the lowestconcentration that inhibits growth and is a more useful quantity but requires each sample to be tested at a range ofconcentrations for each drug. Using 96-well broth micro dilution plates with each well containing a lyophilised pre-determined amount of an antibiotic is a convenient and cost-effective way to measure the MICs of several drugs at once for a clinical sample. Although accurate, this is still an expensive and slow process that requires highly-skilled and experienced laboratory scientists. Here we show that, through the BashTheBug project hosted on the Zooniverse citizen science platform, a crowd of volunteers can reproducibly and accurately determine the MICs for 13 drugs and that simply taking the median or mode of 11–17 independent classifications is sufficient. There is therefore a potential role for crowds to support (but not supplant) the role of experts in antibiotic susceptibility testing.Read more…

Tuberculosis is a respiratory disease that is treatable with antibiotics. An increasing prevalence of resistance means that to ensure a good treatment outcome it is desirable to test the susceptibility of each infection to different antibiotics. Conventionally, this is done by culturing a clinical sample and then exposing aliquots to a panel of antibiotics, each being present at a pre-determined concentration, thereby determining if the sample isresistant or susceptible to each sample. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of a drug is the lowestconcentration that inhibits growth and is a more useful quantity but requires each sample to be tested at a range ofconcentrations for each drug. Using 96-well broth micro dilution plates with each well containing a lyophilised pre-determined amount of an antibiotic is a convenient and cost-effective way to measure the MICs of several drugs at once for a clinical sample. Although accurate, this is still an expensive and slow process that requires highly-skilled and experienced laboratory scientists. Here we show that, through the BashTheBug project hosted on the Zooniverse citizen science platform, a crowd of volunteers can reproducibly and accurately determine the MICs for 13 drugs and that simply taking the median or mode of 11–17 independent classifications is sufficient. There is therefore a potential role for crowds to support (but not supplant) the role of experts in antibiotic susceptibility testing.Read more…


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