Rapid and reliable results with hand-held test for bacterial infection

June 28, 2021
Rapid and reliable results with hand-held test for bacterial infection

Quick and accurate analysis of body fluid samples can now be done using just a smartphone app instead of lab work, thanks to scientists at McMaster University, Canada. The new DNA-based technology is able to analyse a droplet of bodily fluid such as blood, urine or saliva, via a microchip; this can then be plugged into a smartphone to display the result.

The prototype technology is especially important for its ability to distinguish strains of the same bacteria that can be treated with antibiotics from others that are resistant to antibiotics – this can help battle the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

So far, the technology has been successfully used to detect harmful E. coli bacteria in urine samples, and is capable of detecting other types of bacteria by utilising different DNA enzymes. What’s more, it could reportedly also be adapted to detect viral infections, including COVID-19.

The invention combines the electrochemical engineering technology developed by Leyla Soleymani, an associate professor of engineering physics, and her team. “It’s going to mean that patients can get better treatment, faster results and avoid serious complications. It can also avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics, which is something that can buy us time in the battle against antimicrobial resistance.”

[Sometimes, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics right away, just in case the patient is infected – if it turns out that they aren’t, then they will have taken the medication (and endured any side effects) needlessly.]

The scientists are currently exploring regulatory approvals and industry partnerships to get the technology into wide use globally, particularly in regions where access to lab testing is limited or non-existent.

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Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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