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New technique offers rapid detection of wound infection

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A new method for testing bacteria in wounds could in future lead to minimise drug resistance and improve patient outcomes, according to US researchers.

The new method for detection of infection in wounds could take less than a minute to complete, rather than the current 24 hours it takes to plate bacteria and leave it to incubate overnight.

“We were able to harness one of the unique molecules produced by bacteria to detect infection”

Victoria Shanmugam

The method, published in the journal Wound Repair and Regeneration, uses an electrochemical detection strategy to identify molecules produced by the bacteria Pseudomonas, which commonly infects chronic wounds.

The researchers tested the use of an inexpensive, disposable electrochemical sensor that immediately revealed bacteria based on the detection of pyocyanin, a bacterial quorum sensing molecule produced by Pseudomonas.

The probe correctly identified the presence of the bacterium 71% of the time and correctly identified absence of the bacterium 57% of the time.

Lead author Victoria Shanmugam, from George Washington University, said: “Being able to detect Pseudomonas and other infectious organisms at the time of the clinic visit will greatly enhance our ability to take care of patients.

“We would not have to wait for culture results before making a decision about antibiotics, and this would allow us to better tailor therapies for our patients,” she said.

After further enhancement and testing, probes harnessing this methodology could potentially provide a way for clinicians to detect wound infections at the bedside, allowing them to switch from broad-spectrum antibiotics to specific directed therapies sooner, suggested the authors.

Dr Shanmugam said: “Infections are a major challenge in medicine, and by using this probe, we were able to harness one of the unique molecules produced by bacteria to detect infection.

“We plan to continue to refine this testing method and hope to scale it up for detection of other bacteria and to optimise it for clinical use,” she added.


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Good one. I see Pseudomonas is specifically mentioned so would the detection come before the vivid green exudate is apparent and has started to ooze all over the place? That would indeed be helpful if that were the case.

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