Research sniffs out bacteria

UBC Okanagan researchers have developed a tool for speedy diagnosis of bacterial infections.

Using a small and inexpensive biosensor, researchers at UBCO, in collaboration with the University of Calgary, have built a diagnostic tool that provides health care workers with an almost instant diagnosis.

The tool is able to provide accurate and reliable results in real-time rather than the two-to-five days required for existing processes.

“Advances in lab-on-a-chip microfluidic technology are allowing us to build smaller and more intricate devices that, in the medical research space, can provide more information for health care practitioners while requiring less invasive sampling from patients,” explains Mohammad Zarifi, an assistant professor at UBCO's School of Engineering.

Zarifi, and his research group tested their device by tracking the amount of bacteria present in a variety of samples. By sending a microwave signal through a sample, the device quickly and accurately analyzes and then generates a profile of any existing bacteria.

“The device is able to rapidly detect bacteria and, in addition, it screens the interaction of that bacteria with antibiotics,” he adds. “The combined results give health-care practitioners more information than they currently have available, helping them move forward to determine accurate treatments.”

The research was published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports with financial support from CMC Microsystems and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada.

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