With an invention that can be made from some of the same parts used in CD players, University of Michigan researchers have developed a way to measure the growth and drug susceptibility of individual bacterial cells without the use of a microscope.
"You can basically tell, within minutes, whether or not the antibiotic is working," said Kinnunen.
In the near future, "we expect it will be possible to make the determination even quicker," said graduate student Irene Sinn, the paper’s other lead author. "This is something we are actively working on."
The device also can be used for monitoring the growth and drug susceptibility of other types of cells, said Kinnunen. "The sensor is very sensitive to small changes in growth, so this method can be applied to any applications in the microscale or nanoscale where there are small changes in size. That includes the growth of yeast and cancer cells as well as bacteria."
The technology could have far-reaching implications, said McNaughton.
"At Life Magnetics we are very excited and optimistic about leveraging the single cell sensitivity of the AMBR technology to develop a product that will determine the best antimicrobial in hours instead of days," he said. "This will have a dramatic positive impact for patients and for the health system, cutting costs and saving lives. Inappropriate therapy and the overuse of antimicrobials are large contributors to the problem of increased resistance in bacteria. In fact, with superbugs such as MRSA causing every year in the U.S. more deaths than HIV/AIDS, it is no surprise that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers antimicrobial resistance to be among the most pressing health problems. Our technology is designed to attack that problem."
Source: University of Michigan