Researchers develop electronic chip that quickly identifies pathogens

A Canadian research team recently created an electronic chip that can rapidly analyze blood and other samples for infectious bacteria, according to an article published in Nature Communications.

Researchers from the University of Toronto developed the technology, which can identify a pathogen in minutes and check for markers of drug resistance. Current detection methods can take days to report the source of infection and even longer to determine the proper antibiotic that should be used.

"Overuse of antibiotics is driving the continued emergence of drug-resistant bacteria," Shana Kelley, a senior author of the study, said. "A chief reason for use of ineffective or inappropriate antibiotics is the lack of a technology that rapidly offers physicians detailed information about the specific cause of the infection."

The researchers developed an integrated circuit that would be able to detect bacteria at concentrations found in patients with a urinary tract infection.

"The chip reported accurately on the type of bacteria in a sample, along with whether the pathogen possessed drug resistance," Brian Lam, the first author of the study, said.

The circuit can accommodate a panel of multiple biomarkers, allowing the researchers to look at each biomarker separately.

The highly sensitive, enzyme-free electrochemical detection method could represent a simpler and more cost effective diagnostic tool for bacterial testing.