Research project detects bacteria faster, better, cheaper.

Soon in virtually every hospital it will be possible to identify the bacterial species responsible for an infection developing in a patient in a matter of just a few minutes, according to the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

A new, easy-to-adapt and inexpensive analytical procedure has been developed by researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. The main role is played by innovative bioconjugates – luminescent, magnetic microparticles coated with appropriately selected bacteriophages.

When a patient is admitted to hospital with advanced bacterial infection, such as sepsis, time becomes crucial. The sooner it is possible to determine the species of the intruder ravaging the body, the greater the chance of successful treatment. Meanwhile, commonly used analytical methods still require the multiplication of bacteria (which often takes several days) or specialized equipment available in only a few laboratories. The identification of the bacteria can, however, be carried out in almost any hospital analysis laboratory and the waiting time for the result reduced to minutes, according to researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IPC PAS) in Warsaw in the pages of the respected scientific journal Bioconjugate Chemistry.


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The detection device in the new technique for identifying bacteria is a flow cytometer. Despite the seemingly formidable name it is quite a simple and relatively inexpensive piece of equipment, available in many hospitals, where it is used commonly in blood tests. In the cytometer the sample is passed through a nozzle from which the stream that flows is so narrow that all the larger particles in the solution, particularly cells, have to flow one by one. The stream is lit by lasers and surrounded by detectors that record the light reflected from individual particles, scattered to the sides and emitted by them.

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