Scientists shine a light on the detection of bacterial infection
Researchers at the University of Sheffield have developed polymers that fluoresce in the presence of bacteria, paving the way for the rapid detection and assessment of wound infection using ultra-violet light.
When contained in a gel and applied to a wound, the level of fluorescence detected will alert clinicians to the severity of infection. The polymers are irreversibly attached to fragments of antibiotics, which bind to either gram negative or gram positive bacteria both of which cause very serious infections informing clinicians as to whether to use antibiotics or not, and the most appropriate type of antibiotic treatment to prescribe. The team also found that they could use the same gels to remove the bacteria from infected wounds in tissue engineered human skin.
Speaking at the British Science Festival today (15 September), Professor Sheila MacNeil, an expert in tissue engineering and wound healing, explains: "The polymers incorporate a fluorescent dye and are engineered to recognise and attach to bacteria, collapsing around them as they do so. This change in polymer shape generates a fluorescent signal that we've been able to detect using a hand-held UV lamp."
"The availability of these gels would help clinicians and wound care nurses to make rapid, informed decisions about wound management, and help reduce the overuse of antibiotics," says project lead Dr Steve Rimmer.
Currently, determining significant levels of bacterial infection involves swabbing the wound and culturing the swabs in a specialist bacteriology laboratory with results taking several days to be available. The team is confident that its technology can ultimately reduce the detection of bacterial infection to within a few hours, or even less.
The research has already demonstrated that the polymer (PNIPAM), modified with an antibiotic (vancomycin) and containing a fluorescent dye (ethidium bromide), shows a clear fluorescent signal when it encounters gram negative bacteria. Other polymers have been shown to respond to S. aureus, a gram positive bacteria. These advances mean that a hand-held sensor device can now be developed to be used in a clinical setting.
The research is the result of a 3-year project which started in 2006, part-funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) an agency of the Ministry of Defence, interested in the medical application of the research in battlefield conditions, and a subsequent EPSRC funded PhD studentship.
The team is also investigating whether using a sophisticated technique called 'fluorescence non radiative energy transfer (NRET)' to generate the light signal could enable a highly refined sensor technology that could have applications in other areas.
"For example, we think that NRET could be very useful in an anti-terrorist and public health capacity, detecting pathogen release or bacterial contamination, whether accidental or deliberate," says Dr Rimmer. "NRET also allows us to learn more about how the polymers collapse around the bacteria, which is important in developing our understanding of how bacteria interact with these novel responsive polymers."
The team is interested in talking to potential partners to take this technology forward.
Provided by University of Sheffield
- Sheffield scientists light up bacteria Mar 12, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Wound monitor 'sniffs out' infections Mar 14, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- New surface may kill antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria with fluorescent light Oct 20, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- 'Alien'-type viruses to treat MRSA Apr 01, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Plastics used to fix teeth could help prevent spread of disease Jun 23, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
By discovering the new mechanism by which estrogen suppresses lipid synthesis in the liver, UC Irvine endocrinologists have revealed a potential new approach toward treating certain liver diseases.
Medical research 21 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Aortic arch pulse wave velocity, a measure of arterial stiffness, is a strong independent predictor of disease of the vessels that supply blood to the brain, according to a new study published in the June issue the journal ...
Medical research 21 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Since the discovery of Prontosil in 1932, sulfonamide antibiotics have been used to combat a wide spectrum of bacterial infections, from acne to chlamydia and pneumonia. However, their side effects can include serious neurological ...
Medical research 22 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health report they have discovered in mouse studies that a small molecule released in the spinal cord triggers a process that is later experienced in the brain as ...
Medical research 22 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Spanish researchers have discovered that the daily clearance of neutrophils from the body stimulates the release of hematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, according to a report published today ...
Medical research May 23, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 0
Women at a particular stage in their monthly menstrual cycle may be more vulnerable to some of the psychological side-effects associated with stressful experiences, according to a study from UCL.
37 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to ...
1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(HealthDay)—Menopausal hormone therapy should not be used for prevention of coronary heart disease, according to a Committee Opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published ...
43 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The news about youth and diabetes keeps getting worse. The latest data from the national TODAY diabetes study shows that children who develop Type 2 diabetes are at high risk to develop heart, kidney and eye problems faster ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
In Parkinson's disease, the protein "alpha-synuclein" aggregates and accumulates within neurons. Specific areas of the brain become progressively affected as the disease develops and advances. The mechanism underlying this ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
After studying noise in one French Quarter neighborhood of New Orleans to determine whether or not noise levels exceeded municipal ordinances, Annette Hurley, PhD, Assistant Professor of Audiology at LSU Health Sciences Center ...
53 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0