Paper-based, microfluidic device developed for point-of-care detection and susceptibility testing

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Researchers from the University of Southampton (UK) have developed a rapid point-of-care diagnostic test against bacterial infections that could enable clinicians to give the correct antibiotics to right patients at the right time.

The study, recently published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics,  presents a paper-based, microfluidic device that could be quicker than conventional laboratory-based tests, which can take up to 4 days.

“By enabling doctors to quickly determine if an infection is caused by bacteria and if the bacteria are resistant to four common antibiotics, this device could cut down on unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions and help fight the growing threat of antibiotic resistance,” commented Collin Sones (University of Southampton).

The test can use a liquid sample to quickly identify if bacteria present are resistant to four common antibiotics: amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin and nitrofuatonin.

The diagnostic has three layers; a top layer containing the four antibiotics in confined areas, an absorbent paper and an agar gel-containing base layer.  The device works by placing a biological sample onto a small paper tab. The sample then spreads across the paper layer, coming into contact with the antibiotics.

The presence of bacteria in a patient’s sample results in the test paper to turn blue in color and, if the bacteria are susceptible to one of the four antibiotics, there is a clear ring around the corresponding antibiotic – similar to current lab-based antimicrobial susceptibility testing.

The results, which were presented as part of the University of Southampton’s Network on Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP), on 25th February at a Superbugs event at the UK Parliament, are suggested to be comparable with the lab-based antimicrobial testing methods and can easily be read by nurses and clinicians.

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Sources: He P, Katis, IN, Kumar A et al. Laser-patterned paper-based sensors for rapid point-of-care detection and antibiotic-resistance testing of bacterial infections. Biosens. Bioelectron. 152(15) doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2020.112008 (2020); www.southampton.ac.uk/news/2020/02/paperbased-infection-test.page

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