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Taiwanese Researchers find Way to Quickly Detect Bacteria in Blood

Taiwanese researchers have developed a bio-nanotechnology platform that makes it possible to rapidly capture and detect bacteria in human blood samples without the need for time-consuming culture processes.

"Detecting bacteria in clinical blood samples without using time-consuming culture processes will allow more rapid diagnoses," said Wang Yuh-lin, a distinguished research fellow at Academia Sinica and National Taiwan University (NTU) professor, who led the research team.

According to Wang, conventional methods commonly require a sample preparation time ranging from days for fast growing bacteria to weeks for slow growing bacteria.

The result was reported in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

Liu Ting-yu, an assistant professor at NTU and a member of the team, said that "like every instrument that has its own distinct sound, every molecule has its specific spectrum, and scientists have used the feature to differentiate bacteria."

He said that coating silver-nanoparticle arrays with the antibiotic vancomycin using a technology called surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) can lead to a 1,000-fold increase in bacteria capture compared with conventional approaches.

Vancomycin was chosen because it is one of the strongest antibiotics available and captures nearly all forms of bacteria.

Liu said the captured bacteria can then be concentrated in a special vancomycin coated module, while blood cells are excluded, making identification easier.

The development could have wide-ranging benefits, with the top priority at present the detection of sepsis, a potentially deadly condition that is characterized by a whole-body inflammatory state and the presence of known or suspected infection.

Doctor Han Yin-yi of NTU Hospital said the technology would help obtain a much faster and more precise initial test result of the infection, reducing patient fatalities and the incidence of complications.

Han said that once the technology becomes available, doctors will no longer have to engage in guesswork when prescribing drugs to patients, and antibiotic abuse will also be reduced.

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