Abbott said it will team with Genetics Laboratory to develop and commercialise the new molecular diagnostic test to detect microorganisms that cause serious infections in bones and joints.

Under the agreement, Abbott, in partnership with GenLab, will develop the new assay for use on the PLEX-ID automated microbial identification system, currently used in the US for non-diagnostic use.

PLEX-ID utilises a combination of molecular technologies, including polymerase chain reaction (PCR), for gene amplification and mass spectrometry analysis to help identify bacteria, viruses, fungi, certain parasites and provide information on drug resistance, virulence and strain type.

The PLEX-ID system is capable of generating results within five to six hours compared to other methods, which may take several days or longer for positive identification.

An orthopaedic oncologic surgeon Gerhard Maale said a molecular diagnostic test designed to detect microorganisms that cause orthopaedic infections, running on the PLEX-ID, will have the ability to determine which pathogens are responsible for an infection while assessing the genetic composition and antibiotic resistance.

"This could be a major step forward in diagnosing and treating serious infections in artificial joint recipients, with the potential to provide important information to physicians that they could use to save treatment costs and improve the quality of life for these patients," Maale added.

Dr Maale will serve as the medical director for the Abbott-GenLab collaboration. GenLab will support the device development process by identifying, qualifying and establishing key physicians and hospitals as participants in clinical investigations.

About 800,000 knee and hip replacement procedures are performed annually in the US, while complications related to infections occur in approximately 2% of those procedures, according to The New England Journal of Medicine.

Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company focused on the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics.