Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smartphone cameras can speed up urinary tract infection diagnosis

08.01.2020

New 25-minute test could simplify initial diagnosis of urinary tract infections and assist in the fight against the global threat of antibiotic resistance

Biological Engineers at the University of Bath have developed a test that could help medics quickly diagnose urinary tract infections (UTIs), using a normal smartphone camera.


Dr Nuno Reis from the University of Bath has developed a test to detect E. coli in urine samples that uses a smartphone camera

Credit: University of Bath

Similar in principle to a pregnancy test, the process can identify the presence of harmful E. coli bacteria in a urine sample in just 25 minutes.

As well as being far faster than existing testing, it could make accurate UTI testing more widely available in developing nations and remote regions thanks to its potential to be made portable, and far more cheaply than existing lab-based tests.

E. coli is present in 80 percent of bacterial UTIs, so if it is found it tells medical professionals that an antibiotic treatment is needed.

As well as a smartphone camera, the test, which could be adapted to detect a variety of bacterial infections, takes advantage of widely-available reagents and new micro-engineered materials. Researchers say the simplicity of the test, which has now passed the proof-of-concept stage, could deliver a new way to quickly identify treatments for patients in poorer or remote regions.

Described in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the test uses antibodies to capture bacterial cells in very thin capillaries within a plastic strip, detecting and identifying the cells optically rather than through the microbiological methods currently used.

Dr Nuno Reis, from Bath's Department of Chemical Engineering, led the development of the test. He says: "The test is small and portable - so it has major potential for use in primary care settings and in developing countries.

"Currently, bacterial infections in UTIs are confirmed via microbiological testing of a urine sample. That is accurate, but time-consuming, taking several days. We hope that giving medical professionals the ability to quickly rule in or rule out certain conditions will allow them to treat patients more quickly and help them make better decisions about the prescription of antibiotics."

The lack of rapid diagnostics for UTIs has in many cases led to a catch-all prescription of potentially unnecessary antibiotics, which increases the risk of bacteria becoming resistant to treatment - accepted as one of the biggest threats to global health and development.

How the test works

The test is carried out by passing a urine sample over a ridged plastic micro-capillary strip, containing an immobilising antibody able to recognise E. coli bacterial cells. If E. coli is present in the sample, antibodies in the reagents will bind with it, stopping it from passing through the section of plastic strip. Finally, an enzyme is added that causes a change in colour that can be picked up by a smartphone camera.

The system also measures the concentration of E. coli in the sample by analysing an image taken by the camera. The procedure is simple and could be manually operated or fully automated without any need for a mains power supply.

Aims to overcome regulators' concerns on smartphone use

To date, bodies such as the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have not granted approval to techniques that use smartphones - citing the potential for both non-lab conditions and software updates to the phone to make tests unscientific. But Dr Reis hopes that the way the test uses a variable scale to digitally compare the pixels within an image will convince regulators to allow the treatment to move toward eventual production.

Dr Reis adds that wealthier nations could also benefit from adopting the methodology, as it could make testing within primary care facilities such as GP surgeries more viable, reducing the need to send samples to central labs for testing.

He says: "The UK and wealthy countries have seen a big shift to decentralised diagnostics to reduce the load on national or regional labs and provide doctors with important tools to make informed diagnoses.

"Driving more of this will bring better outcomes to patients in terms of speeding up the process, but will also lower the cost to healthcare providers. We are not talking about replacing centralised diagnostics services but providing the first point of contact with affordable and rapid tools to support prescription of antibiotics and avoid their overuse."

The next step for the process is clinical trials, which will require collaboration with clinical and commercial partners. Beyond this, the team will shortly begin working on refining the test to allow for the detection of other bacteria and their concentrations, which will help prescribe correct dosages and avoid the overuse of antibiotics.

Dr Reis concludes: "The smartphone solves one of the biggest problems of the decentralising of diagnostics because their capabilities are actually very sophisticated in certain conditions. They offer the same functionality as sophisticated scanners that have until now been available only in labs."

###

This research is published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2019.111624

Media Contact

Will McManus
wem25@bath.ac.uk
44-012-253-85798

 @uniofbath

http://www.bath.ac.uk 

Will McManus | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/smartphone-cameras-and-pregnancy-test-like-procedure-can-speed-up-urinary-tract-infection-diagnosis/
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2019.111624

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Hybrid microscope could bring digital biopsy to the clinic
13.02.2020 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, News Bureau

nachricht World’s first Parkinson’s patient treated with unique Deep Brain Stimulation device
06.02.2020 | Klinikum der Universität München

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Skyrmions like it hot: Spin structures are controllable even at high temperatures

Investigation of the temperature dependence of the skyrmion Hall effect reveals further insights into possible new data storage devices

The joint research project of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that had previously demonstrated...

Im Focus: Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.

Streaming films and music, scrolling through social media, and using cloud-based storage services are everyday activities now.

Im Focus: New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery

After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis -- carbon-hydrogen functionalization -- scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery. Nature Catalysis published their most recent work -- a streamlined process for making a three-dimensional scaffold of keen interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Our tools open up whole new chemical space for potential drug targets," says Huw Davies, Emory professor of organic chemistry and senior author of the paper.

Im Focus: Quantum fluctuations sustain the record superconductor

Superconductivity approaching room temperature may be possible in hydrogen-rich compounds at much lower pressures than previously expected

Reaching room-temperature superconductivity is one of the biggest dreams in physics. Its discovery would bring a technological revolution by providing...

Im Focus: New coronavirus module in SORMAS

HZI-developed app for disease control is expanded to stop the spread of the pathogen

At the end of December 2019, the first cases of pneumonia caused by a novel coronavirus were reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan. Since then, infections...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

70th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Around 70 Laureates set to meet with young scientists from approx. 100 countries

12.02.2020 | Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electric solid propellant -- can it take the heat?

14.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Pitt study uncovers new electronic state of matter

14.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers observe quantum interferences in real-time using a new extreme ultra-violet light spectroscopy technique

14.02.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>