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Using lasers to rapidly detect antimicrobial resistance

Home > New and events > Using Lasers Rapidly Detect Antimicrobial Resistance

Antibiotic resistence is a growing global concern and major threat to human health.

The standard method used to detect resistance in bacteria, known as phenotypic antibiotic sensitivity testing, monitors bacterial growth over about 12 – 24 hours and is therefore a slow process. New rapid methods for antibiotic sensitivity testing are urgently needed to improve antibiotic stewardship.

Research published in ACS Sensors and conducted by i-sense researchers at University College London and the University of Sheffield, presents a novel method for detecting phenotypic antibiotic resistance in less than 45 minutes, capable of detecting single bacteria. 

Lead author and research associate at University College London, Dr Isabel Bennett, says “In our approach, we use a sensitive laser and detector system to measure nanoscale optical changes caused by single bacterial cells present in media, with simple sample preparation.”

“By exploiting this sensitive technology, we are able to detect growth in resistant bacteria, or death in non-resistant bacteria, providing an indication of antibiotic resistance faster than currently available methods.”

The method has been successfully tested to detect resistance to multiple antibiotics in both lab and clinical strains of E. coli.                                                                                                                                     

This approach can be exploited as a new rapid phenotypic method for antibiotic sensitivity testing, to provide time-critical results to inform patient care.


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