Scientists develop device to detect bacteria in minutes, not days

Scientists develop device to detect bacteria in minutes, not days
Scientists develop a device to detect bacteria in minutes, not days

U.S., Washington – In this time doctors prescribing patients powerful antibiotics while they wait for lab reports could soon be numbered, with a new device returning results within minutes rather than days.

It was invented by a team of researcher at Penn State University and described in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on yesterday (May 6).

The device is Co-developed by Pak Kin Wong, a professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, It uses microtechnology to trap single bacteria cells that can then be viewed under an electron microscope.

The approach allows clinicians to determine in less than 30 minutes whether bacteria are present and its susceptibility to drug treatment – instead of the three-to-five days such lab work takes currently.

Pak Kin Wong told AFP that– We currently prescribe antibiotics even when there is no bacteria present.

“That is over solution. That is one of the things we tried to express. Can we quickly determine the existence of bacterial infection?”

Scientists develop device to detect bacteria in minutes, not days

The analysts’ paper said that in addition to being able to detect whether bacteria are present, the new device can begin to classify the type by determining whether the cells are spherical, rod-shaped, or spiral.

“This device determines existence but not what type of bacteria it is,” said Pak Kin Wong. “What we’re working on is a complementary molecular approach such that we can ID the species.”

When the device find’s that bacteria is present, the sample is exposed to antibiotics to determine whether the strain is resistant, in which case antibiotic intervention would prove ineffective.

Pak Kin Wong said that -“Urinary tract infections are the most common bacterial infections“.

“However, more than 75 percent of urine specimens sent to a clinical microbiology laboratory is negative. Quickly discounting or  confirming the presence of bacteria at a clinically relevant concentration will dramatically enhance patient care.”

He also said that the researcher team had applied for a provisional patent and could bring their device, which they hope to scale down in size so that it can be used in hospitals and doctors’ offices, to market in three years’ time.

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