There is definitely information overload on all the different stool-based testing methods available; however MALDI-TOF is clearly creating waves as many are adopting this novel technology.
It is important to highlight expertise in gaining the most out of this complex machinery that is also used by NASA on the Mars Curiosity Rover to detect microbial inhabitance. Doctor’s Data was in fact the very first lab in the functional medicine industry to introduce MALDI-TOF (Matrix- Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time of Flight) Mass Spectrometry. MALDI-TOF works by measuring the unique ribosomal protein “FINGERPRINTS” of microorganisms which is then individually compared to a reference database for verification and identification. Doctor’s Data utilises MALDI-TOF in combination with “high-complexity” culture for rapid, accurate and reliable identification of hundreds of gastrointestinal bacterial and yeast species, and even subspecies.
Many labs have now made the shift to using MALDI-TOF technology as a portion of their stool analysis panels. Despite having the correct technology, there is a vast difference in experience to gain the most sensitivity using MALDI-TOF. Doctor’s data undertook 2 years of rigorous testing and data analysis to decipher this incredibly complex machinery before implementing it in their lab. Through this process they gained invaluable experience to ensure the reports are providing the utmost valuable information CLINICALLY, hence all MALDI-TOF technology cannot be deemed equal!
Doctor’s Data uses the most expansive MALDI-TOF reference database available (over 1,250 bacteria) in which is currently growing by about 100 species per month. This comprehensive library also allows MALDI-TOF to identify underreported and even previously unidentified enteric pathogens. The key to this method of technology is seeing what is present in the stool and not just sifting through ‘like lock and key’ for specific organisms only, which in clinical practice is far more superior and relevant! Doctor’s Data also contributes to the database by submitting unidentified bacteria present in patient samples for sequencing and validation. Once the species have been validated, they begin reporting those novel gut microorganisms in future patient reports.
Yeast differentiation requires a much more skilled culture technique and can sometimes create difficulties when labs are trying to identify multiple yeast species. Doctor’s Data’s expertise with MALDI-TOF has helped them to identify over 250 different yeast species to date, including 65 Candida species.
Doctor’s Data uses gold standard ova and parasite microscopy along with EIA (Enzyme Immunoassay) and offer analysis of multiple parasitology specimens. Although more laborious, Doctor’s Data examines multiple slides for each sample submitted (a total of 6 slides for a Parasitology x3 profile).
Why DDi? Because Experience Matters
While it is true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it’s important that clinicians understand that experience matters when it comes to such sophisticated technology. I hope this clears up some of the misconceptions surrounding this new technology.
If you still have any questions about MALDI-TOF or DDI Comprehensive Stool Analysis please place it in the comments section below.