In the fight against superbugs, biosensors may have an answer

New biosensors have the potential to detect antiobiotic resistance in bacteria, according to new research from the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE).

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"Antibiotic resistant bacteria is a serious problem," Vitaly Vodyanoy, M.D. said in an announcement. "It is very important [when treating a patient] to distinguish between normal and resistant bacteria; if you have a case of resistance you have to take special measures to cure it."

Vodyanoy used bacteriophages, simple viruses that can target and kill bacteria, mixed with specific antibiodies, which can be used to produce a color change in a sample that indicates antibiotic resistance. This technology can be used by clinicians treating patients and also be used to help disinfect hospital facilities.

In this case, the technique is used against Staphylococcus, one of the first "superbug" pathogens.

"In our method, we can determine bacterial antibiotic resistance in 10-12 minutes, while other methods take hours," Vodyanoy said.  "We envision a future where clinicians do tests with real blood or saliva samples. The virus is completely benign to humans, and we hope to use it to make antimicrobial surfaces and glassware that kill the bacteria."

This should be a welcome advancement as attempts to stop the spread of the intestinal superbug Clostridium difficile have been met with less-than-impressive results. The bacterium is linked to 14,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Copper surfaces offered some relief, as reported earlier in the month, reducing healthcare-acquired infections, including Staphylococcus aureous colonization, by more than half in one study.

To learn more:
- read the study
- read the announcement

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