US scientists reveal unique, quick bacteria-tracking device

May 13, 2019

Waiting days for a lab report to determine a bacterial infection could soon be a thing of the past, as scientists at Pennsylvania State University, US, have developed a device that considerably speeds up the process. The microtechnology-based device traps single bacteria cells which are later viewed under an electron microscope – the evaluation is immediate and safe.

The antibiotics usually prescribed to treat an infection are often unnecessary. The device prevents over-prescription and potential antibiotic resistance as it first detects whether bacteria are present, and can further classify these intospherical, rod or spiral-shaped cells, before determining its susceptibility to drug treatment or if antibiotic intervention would be ineffective.

Pak Kin Wong, a Professor of Biomedical/Mechanical Engineering at Penn State who co-developed the device, has said that accurate diagnosis can contribute to treatment: “Urinary tract infections are the most common bacterial infections; however, over 75%of urine specimens sent to a clinical microbiology laboratory are negative. Rapidly eliminating/confirming the presence of bacteria will dramatically enhance patient care.”

The device is to be scaled down for market use in hospitals and clinics in about three years. The team has applied for a provisional patent for the device, but Wong has hinted that the team is also drafting and experimenting on a complementary molecular approach which allows for successful bacterial identification.

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Category: Technology & Devices

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