A team at the University of Leicester has developed a fast-sensitive "electronic-nose" for sniffing the highly infectious bacteria C. diff, that causes diarrhea, temperature and stomach cramps.
Using a mass spectrometer, the research team has demonstrated that it is possible to identify the unique 'smell' of C. diff
which would lead to rapid diagnosis of the condition.What is more, the Leicester team say it could be possible to identify different strains of the disease simply from their smell - a chemical fingerprint - helping medics to target the particular condition.
The research is published on-line in the journal Metabolomics
Professor Paul Monks, from the Department of Chemistry, said: "The rapid detection and identification of the bug Clostridium difficile
(often known as C. diff
) is a primary concern in healthcare facilities. Rapid and accurate diagnoses are important to reduce Clostridum difficile infections, as well as to provide the right treatment to infected patients.
"Delayed treatment and inappropriate antibiotics not only cause high morbidity and mortality, but also add costs to the healthcare system through lost bed days.
Different strains of C. difficile
can cause different symptoms and may need to be treated differently so a test that could determine not only an infection, but what type of infection could lead to new treatment options."