A chemist at the University of Central Florida has devised a technique that may speed up the detection of bacterial infections afflicting patients, and thereby enable doctors to treat them within hours instead of days.
The development of this technique is significant because more and more bacterial strains are becoming resistant to many drugs these days, making it very critical to quickly identify infections and the antibiotics that may most effectively treat them.
Its developer, Assistant Professor J. Manuel Perez, says that such quick identifications can be even more important for epidemic days, when a large numbers of samples require simultaneous testing.
He insists that the new technique may also pave the way for a quicker and cheaper way of developing new antibiotics to combat super bugs.
"The method really gives doctors quicker access to test results so they can treat their patients more quickly. But there are more applications. This method can also be used by research facilities and big pharmaceutical companies for the high throughput screening of drugs for antibacterial activity," said Perez.
In a paper published online in Analytical Chemistry, Perez has revealed that his technique involves gold nanoparticles coated with a sugar and a protein that binds to sugars. Meanwhile, a variety of antibiotics are placed in the same solution.
A spectrophotometer reads optical variations in the gold nanoparticle solution as the sugar and protein shift, which helps detect antibiotics that effectively halt bacteria growth and those that do not.
Perez says that the results can be obtained within a couple of hours, in contrast to the traditional methods that usually take days to complete. Besides, hundreds of samples can be tested at once using the new technique, as it requires a very small amount of bacteria and antibiotic samples for the purpose.
According to Perez, existing equipments are enough to read the variations, meaning thereby that pharmaceutical companies do not have to buy new equipment.
The researcher insists that the new technique is as sensitive and accurate as the traditional, more time-consuming approach.
"We're very excited and very pleased with the results," Perez said.