Drug resistance can be tackled with this new sensor


A sensor has been developed by a team of scientists to rapidly analyze whether an antibiotic fights a given infection, thus stepping up effective medical treatment and restraining drug-resistant bacteria. The approach devised by the research team at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the United States can rapidly detect mechanical variations of the bacterial cells and any alterations stimulated by an antibiotic.

The results are provided in less than an hour by the prototype sensor, much rapidly compared to the traditional antimicrobial analysis, which normally needs days to cultivate bacterial cell colonies, according to the researchers. Deferred outcomes from the traditional analysis let the dangerous infections to advance prior to providing effective treatments and thus offer a time frame for the bacteria to evolve drug resistance.

Severe threats are posed to public health by the antibiotic-resistant bacteria and inappropriately prescribed antibiotics. As per the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013), at least 23,000 deaths and 2 Million illnesses are credited to antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in the United States every year. The new sensing method is rooted on a quartz-crystal resonator whose pulsations differ in quantifiable manners when constituent parts on the surface alter.

The method, which entails bacterial cells attached to a resonator, characterizes a new approach of utilizing these super-sensitive crystals that were earlier demonstrated by the researchers for applications such as determining the purity of the carbon nanotube. The approach detects the mechanical activity of microbes and their reaction to antibiotics. The technique may be more helpful in clinical settings as it gathers electronic data economically and, as it identifies huge bacterial colonies, can be robust and macroscopic.

The sensor designed is piezoelectric meaning its dimensions alter when rendered to an electric field. Between 2 electrodes, a slender piezoelectric quartz disk is inserted and an alternating voltage at a steady frequency close to the resonant frequency of the crystal is implemented to one electrode to stimulate crystal vibrations.

On the crystal’s opposite side from another electrode, oscillating voltages are recorded by the team of the crystal response, an indication that demonstrates variations in the resonant frequency coming up from microbial mechanical activity attached to the crystal surface.