New medical technology developed in China makes it possible to rapidly, accurately, and economically detect pathogens in the blood. As reported in an article in Chemistry World, Chinese scientists have developed a silicon chip containing nanoparticles of silver that can accomplish sensitive detection of bacteria in the blood, quickly and at a much more economically than other diagnostic tools.
Detecting bacteria in the blood is essential to preventing and treating many serious diseases. Currently available detection tools cannot keep up with the needs of the community to diagnose illness quickly. The complex biochemical analysis methods currently available are time-consuming and may involve relatively poor sensitivity, according to the article.
How the New Silicon Chip Works
As discussed in the Chemistry World Article and published in the Wiley Online Library, Yao He of Soochow University and his colleagues embedded silver nanoparticles in a silicon wafer and anchored a bacteria-binding agent to the surface. Then they deposited human blood containing Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus onto the chip. The researchers found that the chip was able to detect both types of bacteria down to low concentrations of only a few hundred colony-forming units per milliliter. After detection, the chip killed the bacteria by slowly releasing silver anions (negatively charged ions) from the surface.
Diagnostic Technology to Fight Antimicrobial Resistance
According to another Chemistry World article on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the scientific community predicts that resistant pathogens will lead to 300 million premature deaths and $100 million in costs by the year 2050 unless effective action is taken to prevent it. The new silicon chip may be an effective diagnostic to tool in the effort to prevent this potential global health crisis, along with a new antibiotic that can kill bacteria without the bacteria developing a resistance to the antibiotic.
Drug resistant pathogens that may create future public health issues include Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus, HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis. In an assessment of the future impact of AMR conducted by KPMG, malaria resistance is expected to result in the greatest number of fatalities, while Escherichia coli resistance is expected to have the greatest economic impact because of its predicted high incidence and widespread occurrence, as reported on Chemistry World.
RAND Europe also assessed the future impact of AMR, according to the article, modeling a scenario of what could happen if, after 15 years, antimicrobial drug resistance rates rose to 100% while infection rates stayed the same. The new silicon chip developed in China could play an important role in preemptive diagnostic strategies to avert a worldwide health crisis.