Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Is that bacteria dead yet?

Nano and laser technology packed into small device tests antibiotic treatment in minutes

Researchers at EPFL have built a matchbox-sized device that can test for the presence of bacteria in a couple of minutes, instead of up to several weeks. A nano-lever vibrates in the presence of bacterial activity, while a laser reads the vibration and translates it into an electrical signal that can be easily read—the absence of a signal signifies the absence of bacteria.

Thanks to this method, it is quick and easy to determine if a bacteria has been effectively treated by an antibiotic, a crucial medical tool especially for resistant strains. Easily used in clinics, it could also prove useful for testing chemotherapy treatment. The research is published in the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

"This method is fast and accurate. And it can be a precious tool for both doctors looking for the right dosage of antibiotics and for researchers to determine which treatments are the most effective," explains Giovanni Dietler.

Laser and nanotechnology read the bacteria's metabolic activity

It currently takes a long time to measure a bacterial infection's response to antibiotic treatment. Clinicians must culture the bacteria and then observe its growth, sometimes for almost a month, as is the case with tuberculosis, in order to determine if the treatment has been effective.

Thanks to advances in laser and optical technology, the EPFL team of physicists has reduced this time to a couple of minutes. To do so, Giovanni Dietler, Sandor Kasas and Giovanni Longo have exploited the microscopic movements of a bacterium's metabolism.

These vital signs are almost unperceivable. In order to test for them, the researchers place the bacteria on an extremely sensitive measuring device that vibrates a small lever—only slightly thicker than a strand of hair—in the presence of certain activity. The lever then vibrates under the metabolic activity of the germs. These infinitely small oscillations, on the order of one millionth of a millimeter, determine the presence or absence of the bacteria.

To measure these vibrations, the researchers project a laser onto the lever. The light is then reflected back and the signal is converted into an electrical current to be interpreted by the clinician or researcher. When the electrical current is a flat line, one knows that the bacteria are all dead; it is as easy to read as an electrocardiogram.

A promising method for cancer treatment

The researchers have miniaturized the tool—it is currently the size of a matchbox. "By joining our tool with a piezoelectric device instead of a laser, we could further reduce its size to the size of a microchip," says Giovanni Dietler. They could then be combined together to test a series of antibiotics on one strain in only a couple of minutes.

The researchers are currently evaluating the tool's potential in other fields, notably oncology. They are looking into measuring the metabolism of tumor cells that have been exposed to cancer treatment to evaluate the efficiency of the treatment. "If our method also works in this field, we really have a precious tool on our hands that can allow us to develop new treatments and also test both quickly and simply how the patient is reacting to the cancer treatment," says Sandor Kasas.

Lionel Pousaz | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>