Biosensor Chips Identify Antibiotic Treatment Faster

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 14 Apr 2017
Bacterial infections are still a major cause of death in the Western world, and because of over and mistreatment antibiotics resistant bacterial stains are increasing every day. In the UK, it is estimated that 300,000 patients a year acquire infections in hospital, with over 9,000 dying from bacterial infections.

Silicon biosensor chips have been piloted which can rapidly identify the best antibiotics for treating bacterial infections. The system can direct clinicians to the best antibiotic treatment in around two to six hours, rather than upwards of two days, which is typical of conventional tests.

Image: A high-resolution scanning electron micrographs of the biosensor, demonstrating bacteria cells confined within the pores. Some of the bacteria cells are false-colored to ease observation (Photo courtesy of Professor Ester Segal).
Image: A high-resolution scanning electron micrographs of the biosensor, demonstrating bacteria cells confined within the pores. Some of the bacteria cells are false-colored to ease observation (Photo courtesy of Professor Ester Segal).

Scientists at the Technion Israeli Institute of Technology have developed special silicon biosensor chips to address the problem. Each chip contains thousands of nano wells, which are coated with a material, which allows bacteria to stick to the chip. Once the bacteria have stuck to the well, technicians use reflected visual light to count the bacteria, and to see whether the colony is growing. They can then add a different antibiotic in various dilutions to each chip to see which best inhibits bacterial growth, giving results within two to six hours.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) for example, are a major health burden. Around half of all women in the West will have a UTI at some point. The major obstacle in the diagnosis and clinical management of UTI is the delay in our ability to isolate the bacteria causing the infection, and identify its susceptibility to certain antibiotics. This silicon well system can significantly cut the time needed to identify the correct antibiotic, from a couple of days down to just a few hours. Using the best antibiotics will also help prevent the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria which are one of the main problems in hospital acquired infections.

Sarel Halachmi, MD, a clinical associate professor who led the study, said, “We are currently at initial testing stages using commercial bacteria solution and also human bacteria isolated from urine samples. The system is accurate, simple economical, and significantly shortens the time to accurate treatment recommendation and will save lives in the future.” The study was presented at the European Association of Urology congress held March 24-27, 2017, in London, UK.



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