Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chips, light and coding moves the front line in beating bacteria

16.08.2018

Multidisciplinary study finds way to examine biofilms with high efficiency

The never-ending fight against bacteria has taken a turn in humanity's favor with the announcement of a tool that could give the upper hand in drug research.


Hot chip: the nanomushroom chip used to grow bacterial colonies for testing.

Credit: OIST

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics has produced alarming headlines in recent years, with the prospect of commonly prescribed treatments becoming obsolete setting off alarm bells in the medical establishment.

More efficient ways of testing replacements are desperately needed, and a team from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) has just found one.

In their paper, published in ACS Sensors, the scientists look at a microbial structure called biofilms - bacterial cells that band together into a slimy matrix.

These are advantageous for bacteria, even giving resistance to conventional antibiotics. With properties like these, biofilms can be hazardous when they contaminate environments and industries; everything from tainting food production to clogging sewage treatment pipes. Biofilms can also become lethal if they make their way into medical facilities.

Understanding how biofilms are formed is key to finding ways to defeat them, and this study brought together OIST scientists from backgrounds in biotechnology, nanoengineering and software programming to tackle it.

The team focused on biofilm assembly kinetics - the biochemical reactions that allow bacteria to produce their linked matrix structure. Gathering intelligence on how these reactions function can tell a lot about what drugs and chemicals can be used to counteract them.

No tools were available to the team that would allow them to monitor biofilm growth with the frequency they needed to have a clear understanding of it. So, they modified an existing tool to their own design.

Dr. Nikhil Bhalla, working in OIST's Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics Unit led by Prof. Amy Shen took to the nanoscale to find a solution: "We created little chips with tiny structures for E. coli to grow on," he said. "They are covered in mushroom shaped nano-structures with a stem of silicon dioxide and a cap of gold."

Now all the team had to do was find some bacteria to work with. Reaching out to OIST's Structural Cellular Biology Unit, the team were helped by Dr Bill Söderström, who supplied stocks of E. coli on the surface of nanomushroom chips for the team to study.

When these nanomushrooms are subject to a targeted beam of light, they absorb it by Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance (LSPR). By measuring the difference between light wavelengths entering and exiting the chip, the scientists could make observations of the bacteria growing around the mushroom structures without disturbing their test subjects and affecting their results.

"This is the first time we have used this sensing technique to study bacterial cells," said Dr. Riccardo Funari, the team's resident biotechnologist, "but the problem we found was we couldn't monitor it in real time."

Getting a constant stream of data from their LSPR setup was possible, but required a whole new set of software to make it functional. Fortunately, research technician Kang-yu Chu was on hand to lend his programming expertise to the problem.

"We made an automatic measuring program with instant analysis based on existing software, which let us process the data with one click. It greatly reduced the manual work involved and let us correct any problems with the experiment as they happen," said Kang-yu.

Now these three disciplines have combined to make a benchtop tool that can be used in virtually any laboratory, and there are plans to miniaturize the technology into a portable device that could be used in a huge array of biosensing applications.

"Studies on clinically relevant microorganisms are coming next," said Dr. Funari, "and we're really excited about the applications. This could be a great tool for testing future drugs on lots of different kinds of bacteria." For now at least, humans are taking the lead in the bacterial battle.

Media Contact

Kaoru Natori
kaoru.natori@oist.jp
81-989-662-389

 @oistedu

http://www.oist.jp/ 

Kaoru Natori | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.oist.jp/news-center/news/2018/8/15/chips-light-and-coding-moves-front-line-beating-bacteria
http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acssensors.8b00287

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Something old, something new in the Ocean`s Blue
14.11.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht AI-driven single blood cell classification: New method to support physicians in leukemia diagnostics
13.11.2019 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

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 opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden demonstrates manufacturing of copper components

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...

Im Focus: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

Im Focus: A new quantum data classification protocol brings us nearer to a future 'quantum internet'

The algorithm represents a first step in the automated learning of quantum information networks

Quantum-based communication and computation technologies promise unprecedented applications, such as unconditionally secure communications, ultra-precise...

Im Focus: Distorted Atoms

In two experiments performed at the free-electron laser FLASH in Hamburg a cooperation led by physicists from the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear physics (MPIK) demonstrated strongly-driven nonlinear interaction of ultrashort extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) laser pulses with atoms and ions. The powerful excitation of an electron pair in helium was found to compete with the ultrafast decay, which temporarily may even lead to population inversion. Resonant transitions in doubly charged neon ions were shifted in energy, and observed by XUV-XUV pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy.

An international team led by physicists from the MPIK reports on new results for efficient two-electron excitations in helium driven by strong and ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

Smart lasers open up new applications and are the “tool of choice” in digitalization

30.10.2019 | Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

14.11.2019 | Materials Sciences

Massive photons in an artificial magnetic field

14.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Fraunhofer Radio Technology becomes part of the worldwide Telecom Infra Project (TIP)

14.11.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>