Nanoparticles could be used to detect cholera

In a new research report published in the American Chemical Society’s Bioconjugate Chemistry, a team of scientists led by J. Manuel Perez describe a new method that uses specially prepared nanoparticles of iron oxide to detect cholera.

The team looked for specific characteristics of the cholera toxin receptor found on the surface of cells in a victim’s gut, reports. They then added these features to their iron oxide nanoparticles. When the particles are added to blood, water or other fluids, the cholera toxin binds to the nanoparticles in a way that can be detected easily by instruments.

The scientists believe that their test hardware can be turned into a portable system that gives healthcare workers the opportunity to use the technology out in the field, according to These discoveries may also lead to new methods for treating the toxicity of cholera as well.

As cholera has carved a path through Haiti and nearly 40 other countries, advances like this one are meant to provide a prompt test that does not require time-consuming and expensive equipment. Since cholera infection leads to a toxin that causes severe diarrhea and rapid dehydration, prompt treatment is essential and this new methodology would lead to quick diagnosis.

Cholera is caused by water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The disease affects more than 200,000 people each year and leads to around 5,000 deaths annually.