New test can rapidly detect MRSA

Scientists at Edinburgh University have developed a new test to show whether lesions or wounds have been infected with bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The test works by taking swabs from sores or wounds that are almost immediately analyzed using a strip with electrical sensors that can determine if MRSA is present. The test could allow for more effective drugs to be given to patients right away, BBC reports.

Swab samples are currently processed in a laboratory to increase the amount of bacteria present before using the strips. Researchers want to avoid the step in the future by improving the strip's sensitivity to be used in people's homes and doctors' offices. Using conventional techniques, laboratory tests can take a full day.

"Current tests for MRSA tend to be expensive and not very fast," Till Bachman, a scientist with the University of Edinburgh's Division of Pathway Medicine, said, according to BBC. "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."

Bachman presented the research at the Advances in Biodetection and Biosensors conference in Edinburgh on Thursday. Scientists in Edinburgh are using similar technology to monitor signals bacteria send between each other to spread infections and chemicals that patients produce to indicate the wound's response. Understanding the signals could help scientists to identify infections and administer treatment more effectively.