New lab-free infection test technology to help doctors diagnose better

Team of scientists at the University of Southampton have developed a new infection test, made up of sheets of paper patterned by lasers which will allow diagnosis at point of care. The latest invention will further help doctors to provide patients with accurate and faster treatment.

Doctors require to use several antibiotics for first line of treatment after laboratory tests in order to identify cause of common infections such as those of the urinary tract infections (UTIs) which can also take up to four days.

This may not only be less effective than using specific drugs but further also contributes to an increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The latest paper based device with lasers allows doctors to analyse which antibiotic is to be used for the treatment.

The latest technology is cheap to produce, easy to use and could be used by a nurse and a doctor. Furthermore, with the help of lasers, the test paper has three layers- the top layer has four common antibiotics in confined rectangular areas, an absorbent paper in the middle and an agar gel containing base layer, all of which is concealed in a plastic case.

The liquid sample, for instance urine, is added to a small paper tab. It is then covered with tape to prevent it from drying and avoids contamination.

The sample then spreads across the middle paper layer. It then comes into contact with the four rectangles containing the test antibiotics (amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, gentamicin and nitrofurantoin).

If bacteria are present the paper turns blue and if the infection can be treated with one of the antibiotics there will be a clear patch around the corresponding rectangle.

The latest technology not only allows doctors to identify the bacterial infection swiftly but also directs them which one of the four common antibiotics will work the best.

“By enabling doctors to quickly determine if an infection is caused by bacteria, and if the bacteria are resistant to four common antibiotics, this device could cut down on unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions and help fight the growing threat of antibiotic resistance,” explained Dr Sones, lead author of the study.