Pending FDA approval, Santa Fe BioLabs will be introducing AuriFind, a colony/culture classification assay to identify the fungus Candida auris, for which US patent #10662405 was recently granted. This yeast-like fungus is a growing concern for health authorities because of its increased incidence in hospitals worldwide and the difficulty of treatment when it becomes infectious. AuriFind provides a simple growth test on agar medium to determine if a suspected microbial clone is Candida auris or not.

For most clinical strains, a positive result is obtained within 24 to 32 hours. PCR-based assays are undoubtedly faster in detecting relevant DNA but do not distinguish between viable and unviable cells. AuriFind, however, identifies viable and thus potentially infectious cells. Its ease of use makes it suitable even for poorly equipped laboratories.

Isolation and propagation of viable Candida auris cells are also necessary to choose the right drug for the strain in question. While AuriFind is not a direct selection system and requires previous growth of suspicious microbial clones, Santa Fe BioLabs also offers ReCand broth which is designed for maximum recovery of Candida auris from skin and dry environments. The combination of ReCand broth and AuriFind provides speedier answers and higher sensitivity than the dulcitol/salt enrichment medium previously introduced by the CDC for the same purpose.

“Covid-19-related extensive use of ventilators and hospital procedures together with suboptimal hygiene may provide a favorable environment for the spread of Candida auris,” says Wolfram Siede, PhD, CEO and principal scientist of Santa Fe BioLabs LLC. “Recent reports by the LA County Department of Public Health confirmed these concerns. Another pandemic may be starting. So far, the spread of this very persistent organism has remained confined to hospitals and long-time care facilities. However, unlike coronavirus, its consequences are quite often deadly and no therapy is in sight. Alongside molecular methods, AuriFind and ReCand will be important tools in identifying and preventing the spread of Candida auris.”

Santa Fe BioLabs LLC is a start-up biotech company with focus on discovery and consulting in the areas of antimicrobials, microbial diagnostics, cancer research, and healthcare consumer products.

For more information, visit Santa Fe BioLabs.

Featured image: Drops of 36 cell suspensions representing 24 different yeast species were randomly selected, tested in the shown grid on an AuriFind plate, and analyzed after 48 hours. The seven growing samples correctly identify strains of Candida auris.