Clinicians can now determine whether bacteria are present in a person in as little as 30 minutes. The new approach will also let the scientists know the susceptibility of the bacteria to drug treatment. This is a revolutionary step in the health industry. It means that it will no longer take three-to-five days to detect infections.
The new device invented by a team from Penn State University in America was published in an academic sciences paper on Monday, 4th May 2019. Co-developer of the device and professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, Pak Kin Wong, explained that the device uses microtechnology to trap single bacteria cells. These cells can then be viewed under an electron microscope.
Wong said in an interview that instead of prescribing antibiotics indiscriminately, clinicians can now quickly determine if a bacterial infection is really present. He explained that the “device determines existence but not what type of bacteria it is.” He, however, explained that the scientists are working on “a complementary molecular approach” that can show the species of the bacteria.
Scientists detect bacteria
Apart from detecting the presence of bacteria, the device can also classify the type of bacteria by determining whether the cells are rod-shaped, spiral or spherical.
Upon discovering the presence of bacteria, the sample can then be exposed to antibiotics. This will enable clinicians to know whether the strain is resistant to it. This will make it easier to know what antibiotics will be ineffective. That will, in turn, make it easier to get the right treatments to take out the bacteria.
Wong further explained,
“Urinary tract infections are the most common bacterial infections. However, over 75% of urine specimens sent to a clinical microbiology laboratory are negative. Rapidly ruling out or confirming the presence of bacteria at a clinically relevant concentration will dramatically enhance patient care.”
The team have now asked for a provisional patent. They hope to be able to make it available to hospitals by 2023.