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Scientists develop 'electronic nose' for rapid detection of C. diff infection

A fast-sensitive "electronic-nose" for sniffing the highly infectious bacteria C. diff, that causes diarrhoea, temperature and stomach cramps, has been developed by a team at the University of Leicester.

Using a mass spectrometer, the research team has demonstrated that it is possible to identify the unique 'smell' of C. diff which would lead to rapid diagnosis of the condition.

What is more, the Leicester team say it could be possible to identify different strains of the disease simply from their smell a chemical fingerprint - helping medics to target the particular condition.

The research is published on-line in the journal Metabolomics.

Professor Paul Monks, from the Department of Chemistry, said: "The rapid detection and identification of the bug Clostridium difficile (often known as C. diff) is a primary concern in healthcare facilities. Rapid and accurate diagnoses are important to reduce Clostridum difficile infections, as well as to provide the right treatment to infected patients.

"Delayed treatment and inappropriate antibiotics not only cause high morbidity and mortality, but also add costs to the healthcare system through lost bed days.

Different strains of C. difficile can cause different symptoms and may need to be treated differently so a test that could determine not only an infection, but what type of infection could lead to new treatment options."

The new published research from the University of Leicester has shown that is possible to 'sniff' the infection for rapid detection of Clostridium difficile. The team have measured the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) given out by different of strains of Clostridium difficile and have shown that many of them have a unique "smell". In particular, different strains show different chemical fingerprints which are detected by a mass spectrometer.


Contact: Paul Monks
University of Leicester

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Scientists develop 'electronic nose' for rapid detection of C. diff infection
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