New chip makes testing for resistant bacteria faster

29 May 2015

A new chip could make testing for antibiotic-resistant bacteria much easier and quicker, potentially saving many lives.

Published in the international journal Lab on a Chip, the study developed a small and simple chip to test for antibiotic resistance in just one hour, compared to the three-day period currently needed.

This could significantly improve clinical trials and help doctors find the most effective antibiotic to treat potentially deadly infections. 

The team, led by PhD researcher Justin Besant at the University of Toronto, designed a chip that concentrates bacteria in a miniscule space, measuring just two nanolitres in volume, to increase the effective concentration of the starting sample.

Current tests mean that bacteria has to multiply to detectable levels, which can take days. The team achieved higher concentration by 'flowing' the sample and trapping the bacteria with microfluidic wells patterned onto a glass chip. 

Each well has a filter at the bottom, made of tiny microbeads, which catches bacteria as the sample flows through. 

Dr Besant says this gives them two advantages; one by having a lot of bacteria in a very small space so the effective starting concentration is much higher, and two that bacteria multiply and convert the resazurin molecule.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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