Wednesday, 16 October 2019

E. coli detected in minutes by new technology


A discovery by researchers at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick offers a new technology for detecting bacteria in minutes by 'zapping' the bacteria with electricity.
Testing clinical samples or commercial products for bacterial contamination typically takes days. During this time, they can cause significant damage; many infections can become life threatening very quickly if not identified and treated with appropriate antibiotics.

For example, 8% of people with severe blood infection sepsis will die for every hour of delay in proper treatment. More routine problems like urinary tract infections are difficult to diagnose and some people cannot get a clear answer about their symptoms due to difficulties with detecting low-level infections. Studies have found 20-30% of urinary tract infections are missed by dipstick tests used for detecting bacteria in the urine.

Scientists have discovered that healthy bacteria cells and cells inhibited by antibiotics or UV light showed completely different electric reactions. They made this discovery by combining biological experiments, engineering and mathematical modelling. The findings could lead to the development of medical devices which can rapidly detect live bacterial cells, evaluate the effects of antibiotics on growing bacteria colonies, or which could identify different types of bacteria and reveal antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The researchers have an ambitious plan to deliver the technology to market to maximise social good and have founded a start-up company Cytecom to commercialise the idea. The company has been awarded a grant from Innovate UK, the national innovation funding agency. This governmental support accelerates the process and the devices will be available to researchers and businesses in the very near future.


See:

James P. Stratford, Conor L. A. Edwards, Manjari J. Ghanshyam, Dmitry Malyshev, Marco A. Delise, Yoshikatsu Hayashi, Munehiro Asally. Electrically induced bacterial membrane-potential dynamics correspond to cellular proliferation capacity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201901788 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1901788116

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

1 comment:

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