Now, 'artificial nose' to sniff out deadly blood diseases

Washington, Sept 09 (ANI): Researchers have developed a new faster and simpler way to diagnose blood infections and finger the specific microbe, with the help of the odour released by some of the nastiest microbes.

The new test produces results in 24 hours, compared to as much as 72 hours required with the test hospitals now use, and is suitable for use in developing countries and other areas that lack expensive equipment in hospital labs.

The current technology involves incubating blood samples in containers for 24-48 hours just to see if bacteria are present. It takes another step and 24 hours or more to identify the kind of bacteria in order to select the right antibiotic to treat the patient. By then, the patient may be experiencing organ damage, or may be dead from sepsis- is a toxic response to blood-borne infections.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new device which consists of a plastic bottle, small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, filled with nutrient solution for bacteria to grow. Attached to the inside is a chemical sensing array (CSA), an "artificial nose," with 36 pigment dots. The dots change colour in response to signature odour chemicals released by bacteria.

A blood sample from a patient is injected into the bottle, which goes onto a simple shaker device to agitate the nutrient solution and encourage bacterial growth. Any bacteria present in the blood sample will grow and release a signature odour that changes the colours of pigment dots on the sensor.

The test is complete within a day, and the results can be read in a pattern of colour changes unique to each strain of bacteria.

Researcher, James Carey said that the new device can identify eight of the most common disease-causing bacteria with almost 99 percent accuracy under clinically relevant conditions.

"Our CSA blood culture bottle can be used almost anywhere in the world for a very low cost and minimal training. All you need is someone to draw a blood sample, an ordinary shaker, incubator, a desktop scanner and a computer," Carey noted.

The study was reported at the 246th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). (ANI)