Major London Hospital Uses Automated Colony Counter To Accurately Track Antibiotic Resistant Superbugs

Synbiosis, a long-established manufacturer of automated microbiological systems, has announced that its ProtoCOL 3 automated colony counter is being used at a major teaching hospital in London to accurately track the spread of Carbapenem-Resistant bacteria (CRB) superbugs.

Microbiologists in the infection control group at the hospital are using ProtoCOL 3 to count colonies of Carbapenem-Resistant and Extended-Spectrum Beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing bacteria including E. coli and Klebsiella spp. isolated from patients’ stools cultured on a range of different selective and chromogenic plates. Using ProtoCOL 3 is helping microbiologists at this hospital to precisely trace the spread of these superbugs in the community after patients carrying the bacteria leave hospital.

A research laboratory manager at the hospital explained: “Before patients carrying CRB are discharged, we obtain consent to use theirs and their family’s stool samples before and up to three months after they leave hospital. We isolate bacteria by inoculating them onto selective plates including: Drigalski Lactose Agar, MacConkey Agar, ESBL chromogenic agars and a selective agar for Klebsiella which we make in-house. This generates a large number of plates to analyse. We used to count colonies manually but after counting around 40 plates, we didn’t trust the results so would often re-count some plates the next day to ensure accuracy - it took hours.”

The laboratory manager added: “We tested three automated counters and chose the ProtoCOL 3 because this system can recognise all types of coloured colonies on the different plates we use and calculates colony forming units/ml for us. The system also stores plate images that we can check later and use on posters or in papers. For us using the ProtoCOL 3 has taken the strain out of colony counting and given us more confidence in the accuracy of our results.”

“Microbiologists performing manual colony counts and recording results of large numbers of plates and then doing calculations can make errors just by being tired,” commented Kate George, sales and technical director at Synbiosis. “The research at this prestigious hospital shows that the ProtoCOL 3 colony counter is like having an automated expert assistant in the lab, helping provide rapid, accurate surveillance of multi-drug resistant superbugs.”


For Further Information, Contact:

Jayne Arthur, Synbiosis, Beacon House, Nuffield Road, Cambridge, CB4 1TF, UK.

Tel: +44(0) 1223-727125 Fax +44 (0) 1223-727101

Email: Web site:

Twitter: @TeamSynbiosis


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