Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Assessing rapid microbial detection systems

by Dr. Ray Nims

With each passing year, it seems that there are more options available for rapid microbial detection. These rapid systems come in a variety of “flavors”, that is - they differ with respect to a set of key attributes. For instance, how rapid is rapid? What is the sensitivity? What is the maximum sample volume that may be tested? Is it quantitative or qualitative? What units are the results given in? Is it destructive or non-destructive (i.e., can the organism, once detected, be identified)? When one considers the variety of applications for which rapid methods may potentially replace existing culture methods, it rapidly becomes clear that there may not be “one shoe that fits all”.

In order to select an appropriate rapid method for use in one of the many microbial detection applications, one must first assess the available rapid systems for the key attributes mentioned above. This then provides the opportunity to rule out systems which for one reason or the other will not suit the application. There may be some applications for which no rapid system currently meets all requirements. Those rapid systems which do appear to possess the attributes required may be further evaluated for cost and for performance capabilities using specific sample matrices.

In the table below, we have listed some of the currently available rapid microbial detection systems. These include only systems which are 48 hours in duration or less, and therefore some of the sterility replacement assays involving reduced incubation durations (e.g., BacT/ALERT®, Growth Direct™) are not listed.

The key attributes of these rapid systems are displayed in the table below. The systems are arranged by principle of detection, as in the table above. For certain methods (e.g., Micro Pro™) increased sensitivity can be gained through increasing the duration of the incubation time. For non-destructive methods, the ability to identify the organism(s) detected is facilitated by an additional incubation post-detection.

What is the regulatory position on rapid microbial detection methods? The U.S. FDA Guidance for Industry: Sterile Drug Products Produced by Aseptic Processing states that other suitable microbiological tests (e.g., rapid methods) may be considered for environmental monitoring, in-process control testing, and finished product release testing after it has been demonstrated that these new methods are equivalent or better than conventional (e.g., USP) methods. Additionally, the FDA Process Analytical Technology (PAT) initiative encourages the voluntary development and implementation of innovative approaches in pharmaceutical development, manufacturing, and quality assurance (from MJ Miller, PDA Journal 45: 1-5, 2002).

Are rapid methods being used in the pharmaceutical industry? ScanRDI was approved by the FDA for water testing at GSK and for sterility testing at Alcon; Pallchek has been approved by the FDA for bioburden testing at GSK; and Wyeth received approval for use of Celsis for microbial limits testing.

Like all methods proposed to replace existing “gold standards”, these rapid microbial detection systems must be demonstrated through comparability protocols to be equivalent to or better than the existing methods. The effort required should pay dividends in terms of shortened turnaround times and reduced costs.

No comments:

Post a Comment