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Tiny electrical sensors could signal faster MRSA diagnosis

Date:
March 29, 2012
Source:
University of Edinburgh
Summary:
A simple test to identify MRSA in wounds could identify the superbug quickly and help prevent infection from spreading. Scientists have developed the test to show whether wounds or lesions are infected with bacteria and if MRSA is present.

A simple test to identify MRSA in wounds could identify the superbug quickly and help prevent infection from spreading. Scientists have developed the test to show whether wounds or lesions are infected with bacteria and if MRSA is present.

The test, developed at the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with NHS Lothian, works by taking swabs from a wound or sores.

These are then analysed using a strip with electrical sensors that can detect MRSA.

Researchers currently process the swab samples in the laboratory to increase the amount of bacteria present before testing them.

They hope to avoid the need for this in the future by improving the strip's sensitivity.

Improving the strip's sensitivity would enable scientists to develop a test that could be used outside the laboratory, for example in GP practices or people's homes.

Detecting bacteria more quickly than compared to conventional tests would also enable more effective drugs to be given to the patient straight away.

Currently, laboratory tests to confirm whether MRSA is present in a wound can take a full day using conventional techniques.

Use for diabetic patients

The test was developed using swabs from diabetic foot ulcers taken from patients attending NHS Lothian's Diabetic Foot Clinic at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Detection of MRSA in these patients is important to prevent the spread of infection, which can lead to the amputation of limbs and increase the risk of mortality.

"Antibiotic resistance is becoming a pressing issue in modern healthcare and we are in serious danger of entering a post-antibiotic era. Current tests for MRSA tend to be expensive and not very fast. By developing a rapid and cost-effective test, we would know what kind of infection is present straight away, which will improve the chance of success in treating it, said Dr Till Bachmann of the University of Edinburgh's Division of Pathway Medicine.

Bacteria

Edinburgh scientists are using similar technology to monitor signals that bacteria send to each other to spread infections, and chemicals that patients produce that indicate the wound's response to the infecting bacteria.

Understanding why bacteria release certain molecules as part of this process will help scientists identify the start of an infection and so treat it promptly.

The research behind this test was presented at the Advances in Biodetection and Biosensors conference in Edinburgh.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Edinburgh. "Tiny electrical sensors could signal faster MRSA diagnosis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120329112109.htm>.
University of Edinburgh. (2012, March 29). Tiny electrical sensors could signal faster MRSA diagnosis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120329112109.htm
University of Edinburgh. "Tiny electrical sensors could signal faster MRSA diagnosis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120329112109.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

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