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Nanotech 'bacteria bloodhounds' developed

January 7, 2012 12:06pm

Tags: Taiwan
A new bio-nanotechnology developed by Taiwanese researchers may soon help detect bacteria in blood samples quickly, without the need for long culture processes.
The new technology can help get much faster and more precise initial test results of infections and reduce the chance of fatalities or complications, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported.
"Detecting bacteria in clinical blood samples without using time-consuming culture processes will allow more rapid diagnoses," said Wang Yuh-lin, a distinguished research fellow at Academia Sinica and National Taiwan University (NTU) professor, who led the research team.
The CNA report said the benefits may include the detection of sepsis, a potentially deadly condition.
NTU Hospital's Dr. Han Yin-yi said the technology would help obtain a much faster and more precise initial test result of the infection, reducing patient fatalities and the incidence of complications.
Han said that once the technology becomes available, doctors will no longer have to engage in guesswork when prescribing drugs to patients, and antibiotic abuse will also be reduced.
The researchers noted conventional methods require a sample preparation time ranging from days for fast-growing bacteria to weeks for slow-growing bacteria. 
NTU assistant professor Liu Ting-yu, a member of the team, said each molecule has its specific spectrum, "like every instrument that has its own distinct sound."
Scientists have used this feature to differentiate bacteria, Liu said.
He said coating silver-nanoparticle arrays with the antibiotic vancomycin using a technology called surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) can lead to a 1,000-fold increase in bacteria capture compared with conventional approaches.
The CNA report said vancomycin was chosen because it is one of the strongest antibiotics available and captures nearly all forms of bacteria.
Liu said the captured bacteria can then be concentrated in a special vancomycin coated module, while blood cells are excluded, making identification easier.
Accoridng to the CNA, the researchers' findings were reported in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Nature Communications. — TJD, GMA News
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