Can we Detect Pathogens Faster?

Pathogens associated with inflammatory bowel disease detectable using nanoparticles

(RxWiki News) Pathogens associated with inflammatory bowel diseases are hard to detect, and diagnosis can take months. Now, a new technique has been discovered that is more accurate, faster, and cheaper.

The new technique uses nanoparticles coated with carefully programmed DNA strands - which send out magnetic signals when they find pathogens.

An intracellular pathogen, Mycobacterium avium spp. paratuberculosis (MAP) was detectable.

This can be completed in a matter of hours, and could help doctors more effectively treat the diseases associated with these pathogens. Identification of other microbial pathogens and disease-related biomarkers may be possible with this technique.

"Ask your doctor about new treatments and techniques."

The research team was led by J. Manuel Perez, Ph.D., and Saleh Naser, Ph.D., of University of Central Florida. "Our new technique has surpassed traditional molecular and microbiological methods," says Naser. "Without compromising specificity or sensitivity, the nano-method produced reliable and accurate results within hours compared to months."

The team created nanoparticles called hybridizing magnetic relaxation nanosensors (hMRS), which are programmed to bind only to specific pathogens. When the hMRS bind to a pathogen a magnetic signal is broadcast. The researchers can then detect these signals with a tool known as a relaxometer.

After taking a blood sample from the patient, the team estimates that the test can be successfully completed in about a hour.

According to the study authors, the nanoparticles are cheap and easy to manufacture, and the test will result in lower costs for patients. Additionally, the faster results will allow for better diagnosis and treatment.

"It is all about giving medical professionals easy and reliable tools to better understand the spread of a disease, while helping people get treatment faster," adds Perez.

At this time it is unknown when the testing technique will become widely available to doctors. Also, it is unknown how much the test will cost patients.

The study was funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and was published in the online journal Plos ONE on April 9th, 2012. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Review Date: 
April 9, 2012