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Rapid Test Prevents Antibiotic Resistance from Spreading

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Scientists at the University Hospital Jena and Friedrich Schiller University have been working on a faster way to analyze life-threatening infections using Raman spectroscopy. Standard practices for infectious diagnostics require up to 72 hours for a reliable result, but the new method gives rise to information in under three hours. The results of the study can be found in Analytical Chemistry.

Such a fast procedure could revolutionize diagnostics of infectious diseases.

Professor Bettina Löffler, Director of the Institute of Medical Microbiology -University Hospital Jena

The mass use of antibiotics has caused an increase in resistant bacteria that is a growing danger. Fast testing is needed to be able to choose the appropriate antibiotic therapy. The analysis is normally only possible after time-consuming cultivation, but time is a crucial factor when treating severe infections such as sepsis.

Antibiotics are blindly administered because there is not the time to analyze the pathogen or any potential resistances, but this newly developed test gives information on which antibiotic is effective in a short space of time.

We combine light-based analytical methods with microfluidic sample processing. With our Lab-on-a-Chip system, we are able to clearly identify bacterial strains and their resistances, in less than three hours.

Professor Ute Neugebauer, Professor of Physical Chemistry - University Hospital Jena

Electric fields secure the bacteria in a very small area, and then various antibiotics of different concentrations are applied to the trapped bacteria for analysis with Raman spectroscopy. Professor Ute Neugebauer further explains: “This means that we irradiate the pathogens with laser light and evaluate the scattered light spectrum.”

From the changes in the Raman spectra, the scientists can tell if the bacterial strain is resistant or sensible. They are also able to get information on the concentration of the antibiotic needed to constrain bacterial growth.

This is an important diagnostic parameter that influences the success of a treatment decidedly.

Professor Jürgen Popp, Director of the Leibniz- IPHT & Head of the Institute of Physical Chemistry - Friedrich-Schiller University Jena

The researchers are currently working on a platform that can be used in hospitals. Future aims include developing a cartridge-based rapid test system for general practitioners to identify resistances in a fast and easy way.

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Louise Saul

Written by

Louise Saul

Louise pursued her passion for science by studying for a BSc (Hons) Biochemistry degree at Sheffield Hallam University, where she gained a first class degree. She has since gained a M.Sc. by research and has worked in a number of scientific organizations.


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