Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tiny Lab Devices Could Attack Huge Problem of Drug-Resistant Infections

27.04.2015

NIH-Funded Project Aims For Fast Identification and Destruction of Deadly Bacteria

A Johns Hopkins engineer, supported by a major NIH grant, is leading a multi-institution team that wants to keep bacterial infections from dodging the dwindling arsenal of drugs that destroy the deadly microbes.


Graphic by Jeff Wang Lab/Johns Hopkins University

This illustration depicts a microfluidic chip for bacterial detection and drug testing in picoliter-sized droplets.

The group’s goal is to build palm-size devices that can quickly figure out which germ is causing a hospital-linked infection and then identify the right drug and dosage needed to kill the bacteria.

Current testing methods can take up to three days to get these answers. But when a hospital patient is too ill to wait that long, physicians often make educated guesses and prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics. These may help the patient, but the medicine can also allow some bacteria to adapt and survive, leading to the growth of antibiotic-resistant microbes.

If present trends continue, public health experts fear that more and more life-threatening infections will soon be able to shrug off the shrinking number of drugs that can be used to kill them.

“To keep this from happening, we need to be faster and more precise in the way we diagnose and treat people with bacterial infections,” said Tza-Huei (Jeff) Wang, a Johns Hopkins professor of mechanical engineering who is leading the team that will build the new microfluidic testing devices. “Instead of waiting three days to figure out what the infection is and what’s the best drug to treat it, we believe our technology will deliver both answers within just three hours.”

He added, “That should lead to more effective treatment and a lower risk of promoting antibiotic resistance.”

Wang’s project was one of nine antimicrobial resistance diagnostic projects selected for funding recently by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The team will receive $1.26 million for the first year of a five-year effort that is expected to ultimately receive nearly $6 million in NIAID support.

NIAID officials said the new grants were aligned with a key goal of with President Barack Obama’s recent National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.

The new funding program was launched to help researchers develop new tools to detect hospital-associated pathogens. For more than 80 years, antibiotics have helped patients ward off infections, but existing drugs are becoming less effective and few new ones are being developed. Because of this, each year in the United States more than 2 million people develop antibiotic-resistant infections, and at least 23,000 die as a result, federal health officials say.

“If this trend continues,” Wang said, “we are at risk of going back almost a century to a time before the first antibiotics were introduced.”

His team will try to keep this from happening. The group will focus on fighting the bacteria linked to urinary tract infections, but Wang said the same technology should be useful in identifying and treating of other infections as well, including sexually transmitted diseases.

The project will draw on Wang’s expertise in working with microfluidic “lab on a chip” devices. These platforms feature extremely tiny channels through which liquids and microscopic organisms can be manipulated and studied. One module will be designed to break down single cells of infectious bacteria and enclose their genetic material within tiny droplets of liquid. The team members will then attach fluorescent probes to the genetic material to enable quick identification of the infection.

The second module will be designed to test bacterial cells within similar droplets to determine which medicine will most effectively kill the microbes. It will also work to pinpoint the precise drug dosage needed to inflict a fatal blow.

These two modules, Wang said, could be connected and still fit in the palm of a hand, set up to identify the pathogen and find out how to destroy it within three hours.

One of his partners in the project will be co-principal investigator Joseph C. Liao, a Stanford University urologist who will help validate that the technology works on bacteria associated with urinary tract infections. In addition, researchers from the University of Arizona will assist in developing the second microfluidic system to identify the proper antibiotic and dosage. Partners from GE Global Research will provide advice how to design the devices for eventual commercial production and widespread use.

The project is being funded by NIAID Grant Number 1 R01 AI117032-01.

In addition to his primary Johns Hopkins appointment in the Whiting School of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, Wang also is affiliated with the university’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, its Institute for NanoBioTechnology and its Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Illustration of microfluidic device and photo of Prof. Wang available; contact Phil Sneiderman.

Contact Information
Media Contact: Phil Sneiderman
Office: 443-997-9907/Cell: 410-299-7462
prs@jhu.edu On Twitter: @filroy

Phil Sneiderman | newswise

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>