Tuberculosis is a respiratory disease that is treatable with antibiotics. An increasing prevalence of resistance means that to ensure a good treatment outcome it is desirable to test the susceptibility of each infection to different antibiotics. Conventionally this is done by culturing a clinical sample and then exposing aliquots to a panel of antibiotics, thereby determining the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of each drug. Using 96-well broth micro dilution plates with each well containing a lyophilised pre-determined amount of an antibiotic is a convenient and cost-effective way to measure the MICs of several drugs at once for a clinical sample. Although accurate, this is an expensive and slow process that requires highly-skilled and experienced laboratory scientists. Here we show that, through the BashTheBug project hosted on the Zooniverse citizen science platform, a crowd of volunteers can reproducibly and accurately determine the MICs for 13 drugs and that simply taking the median or mode of 11-17 independent classifications is sufficient. There is therefore a potential role for crowds to support (but not supplant) the role of experts in antibiotic susceptibility testing.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory