INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 8, 2013 Disease-causing bacteria stink literally and the odor released by some of the nastiest microbes has become the basis for a faster and simpler new way to diagnose blood infections and finger the specific microbe, scientists reported here today at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society.
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.
"We have a solution to a major problem with the blood cultures that hospitals have used for more than 25 years to diagnose patients with blood-borne bacterial infections," said James Carey, Ph.D., who presented the report. "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."
Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a toxic response to blood-borne infections that kills more than 250,000 people each year in the United States alone. The domestic health-care costs to treat sepsis exceed $20 billion. In such a medical emergency, every minute counts, Carey explained, and giving patients the right antibiotics and other treatment can save lives.
That's why a research team at the University of Illinois that included chemistry professor Ken Suslick, and Carey, set out to develop a faster, simpler test. Carey, of the National University of Kaohsiung in Taiwan in the Republic of China, described a completely new way to identify bacteria compared to an earlier version of such a test developed at Illinois.
The new device consists of a
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