PositiveID Corp, Delray Beach, Fla, has successfully detected Clostridium difficile on its Firefly Dx polymerase chain reaction (PCR) breadboard prototype pathogen detection system in less than 20 minutes.

The C. diff assay, provided to the company for testing by partner GenArraytion Inc, Rockville, Md, tests for the C. diff chromosome as well as toxins A and B.

C. diff is a bacterium that most often affects older patients in hospitals or long-term care facilities after antibiotic use, and causes symptoms ranging from diarrhea to lethal inflammation of the colon. More than 500,000 people get sick each year from C. diff, which, like many hospital-acquired infections, has become more frequent, severe, and difficult to treat.

The company’s PCR system has also successfully identified methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA).

“As we progress in the development of Firefly Dx, we not only make engineering improvements to the system, we also increase the breadth of our data by adding to the list of pathogens we can detect,” says William J. Caragol, chairman and chief executive of PositiveID. “The hospital-acquired infection market is vast, and we believe our ability to successfully detect C. diff, MRSA, MSSA, and other pathogens quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively, will enable us, upon completion, to provide Firefly Dx to hospitals and other care facilities to help stop the spread of these and other dangerous infections.”

The Firefly Dx prototype system is designed to provide real-time, accurate diagnostic results in a handheld device. For more information, visit PositiveID.