Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Identifying dangerous infections early

16.10.2013
Harmful bacteria can colonize artificial joints or other implants in the body. Researchers from Würzburg and the Netherlands have developed a method for detecting such infections early.

Staphylococci are bacteria that are particularly feared in hospitals. This is because a staphylococcal infection can be life-threatening for patients whose immune system is weakened, as is the case, for example, after a major procedure such as an organ transplant. Staphylococci pose special problems since they are also resistant to various antibiotics.


Evidence of a staphylococcal infection in the leg muscle of a mouse with the new fluorescent agent vanco-800CW. A fluorescence signal can be seen beneath the pelvis of the animal because the agent collects in the bladder before it is excreted in urine.

Image: Kevin P. Francis, Caliper (Alameda, California, USA)

Such infections are also dangerous for patients who receive artificial joints, for instance, or other implants. With implants, in particular, there is a risk of the bacteria forming so-called biofilms on top of them: the microbes surround themselves with a mucus sheath, which protects them very well against medication.

Possible consequences of an infection

“If an infection of this kind gets out of hand, the implant may have to be surgically removed again,” says Knut Ohlsen from the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology at the University of Würzburg. After that, the infected region is “remediated” before a new implant can be inserted. All in all, this is a lengthy process and one that is very stressful for the patient.

So, it is important to identify implant infections as early as possible. Now, for the first time, research teams from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands are presenting a suitable method in the journal “Nature Communications”. Knut Ohlsen and Tina Schäfer from the University of Würzburg helped develop it.

How the new “tracker” works

The scientists have developed an agent that could be described as a “fluorescent tracker”: it locates even the smallest quantities of harmful staphylococci in the body and marks them so that they can be identified from outside with a special camera. The “tracker” is the common antibiotic Vancomycin coupled to a new fluorescent dye.

The technique has proven its suitability in experiments with mice. If it can also be used in humans, it may be possible to avoid implant infections and secondary operations in the future: if there are any signs of an infection after an implant has been inserted, such as a fever or abnormal protein in the blood, the “tracker” could be administered to the patient as a contrast agent. Then, using a video camera that records the agent’s fluorescence signals, the location and extent of the infection could be determined immediately and countermeasures introduced.

The new agent called vanco-800CW is now set to be developed further for use in humans under the direction of the Dutch researchers. Corresponding clinical trials are being planned.

What was done in Würzburg

As part of the project, Tina Schäfer and Knut Ohlsen examined the suitability of the new agent. Which bacteria does the fluorescence-labeled Vancomycin provide any evidence of and how well can its fluorescence be shown with different detection techniques? These questions were answered in Würzburg. Fluorescence imaging is a focus of research activity at the Institute for Molecular Infection Biology. The work is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in Transregional Collaborative Research Center 34.

“Real-time in vivo imaging of invasive- and biomaterial-associated bacterial infections using fluorescently labeled vancomycin”, Marleen van Oosten, Tina Schäfer, Joost A.C. Gazendam, Knut Ohlsen, Eleni Tsompanidou, Marcus C. de Goffau, Hermie J.M. Harmsen, Lucia M.A. Crane, Ed Lim, Kevin P. Francis, Lael Cheung, Michael Olive, Vasilis Ntziachristos, Jan Maarten van Dijl, Gooitzen M. van Dam. Nature Communications, 15 October 2013, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3584

Contact

Dr. Knut Ohlsen, Institute for Molecular Infection Biology, University of Würzburg, T +49 (0)931 31-82155, knut.ohlsen@uni-wuerzburg.de

Robert Emmerich | Uni Würzburg
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Correct connections are crucial
26.06.2017 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

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

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>