Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Diagnostic Polymerase Chain Reaction for Uropathogenic Escherichia Coli

Technology #5236

Urinary tract infections are a major challenge to global health.

Almost 50% of the global population will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives, and those who suffer from recurrent, UTI can have three or more episodes of infection per year. As the most common healthcare-associated infection, UTI accounts for more than 30% of infections reported by acute-care hospitals. Strains of bacteria known as uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) are the primary cause of community-acquired UTI (70–95%), accounting for substantial medical costs and morbidity worldwide. Unfortunately, standard clinical laboratory tests to identify the infectious strain require culturing of the bacteria which can take several days. Rapid and definitive diagnosis of UTI would have an enormous favorable impact on its treatment and management with timely administration of the most effective antibiotic.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a rapid, efficient tool used by researchers to identify the presence of specific genes. Recent studies have shown that highly virulent UPEC commonly express certain genes. Scientists at the University of Michigan have developed a PCR-based method to identify these genes, providing diagnostic results from a urine sample in a matter of hours. Clinical use of this technology would allow of significantly treatment of individuals with UTI.

Applications and Advantages


  • Diagnosis of UTI
  • Identification of infectious agent(s)


  • Rapid
  • Efficient
  • Low cost
  • High throughput