Scientists have developed a new “rapid test” that produces a cheaper and faster diagnosis on infectious diseases in just three hours thus preventing antibiotic resistances from spreading.
Owing to small number of pathogens in a patient’s sample, standard practices require up to 72 hours to allow for a reliable result for the infectious diagnostics.
The new method provides much faster diagnosis with the help of tiny electrodes that are fixed on the surface of a stamp-sized chip.
“Electric fields secure bacteria in a very small area,” said Ute Neugebauer from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena in Germany.
The scientists then apply various antibiotics in different concentrations on the trapped bacteria and examine them with Raman spectroscopy.
“This means that we irradiate the pathogens with laser light and evaluate the scattered light spectrum”, Neugebauer said.
“We combine light-based analytical methods with microfluidic sample processing. With our Lab-on-a-Chip system, thus a miniaturised lab, we are able to clearly identify bacterial strains and their resistances, in less than three hours,” he explained.
The combination of fast, light-based diagnostics and a high automation level reduces the time from sampling to result from to date 72 to three and a half hours.
The doctors can then derive whether the strain is resistant or sensible. At the same time they can also derive information on the needed concentration of the antibiotic to constrain bacterial growth.
“This is an important diagnostic parameter that influences the success of a treatment decidedly…such a fast procedure could revolutionise diagnostics of infectious diseases”, the researchers said, in a paper published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.
Another, more far reaching, aim is the further development into a cartridge-based rapid test system, which will enable general practitioners to identify resistances in a fast and easy way for the first time.
Thereby, physicians would hold a powerful tool from which they could benefit in personalised therapy — this means the administration of a fitting drug, the researchers said.