In what could lead to faster diagnosis of diarrhoea and stomach cramps, researchers have developed an “electronic nose” that can sniff the highly infectious bacteria that causes these diseases.
Using a mass spectrometer, the researchers demonstrated that it is possible to identify the unique ‘smell’ of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) which would lead to rapid diagnosis of the condition.
What is more, in the near future it could be possible to identify different strains of the disease simply from their smell, helping medics to target the particular condition, said the researchers from University of Leicester in Britain.
“Current tests for C. difficile do not generally give strain information – this test could allow doctors to see what strain is causing the illness and allow doctors to tailor their treatment,” said Martha Clokie from the department of infection, immunity and inflammation.
Different strains of C. difficile can cause different symptoms and may need to be treated differently so a test that could determine not only an infection, but what type of infection could lead to new treatment options.
For the study, the researchers measured the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) given out by different of strains of Clostridium difficile and showed that many of them have a unique “smell”.
“Our approach may lead to a rapid clinical diagnostic test based on the VOCs released from faecal samples of patients infected with C. difficile,” professor Paul Monks added.
The study appeared online in the journal Metabolomics.