These days bacterial infections often require the growth of cultures from taken samples before tests can be performed, a process that lasts from hours to weeks depending on the strain. The tests, usually to determine which antibiotics will work, can also take quite a bit of time before results come in, but there may soon be a much faster way thanks to a sensor capable of distinguishing live from dead bacteria directly.
Developed at Purdue University, the goal of the project is to be able to screen a wide variety of bacteria and antibiotics in order to quickly identify which strains are killed by which medicine. This can help bypass culturing and lead to significantly faster, perhaps even point-of-care, results.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the technology relies on bacterial osmoregulation, the natural process of individual cells to control the concentration of water and salt within themselves. As the concentration of salt rises within the bacterial cell’s environment, it opens and closes special valves, taking on or releasing liquid depending on the difference in the salt’s concentration. Measuring the minute differences in the amount of liquid around the cell points to whether the cell is performing osmoregulation naturally, and thereby whether it’s alive. This process is fast and accurate, potentially revolutionizing how bacterial pathology is performed.
Here’s a video from Purdue University with the researchers behind the project:
Study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Evaporation-induced stimulation of bacterial osmoregulation for electrical assessment of cell viability…