Low-cost screen-printed carbon sensors have been used to rapidly detect bacteria commonly found in wounds, which could pave the way for a real-time medical device.
The University of Strathclyde and NHS Ayrshire & Arran used sensitive portable electrochemical sensors, which detected infections in clinical samples within half an hour – far quicker than current hospital laboratory testing, which typically takes at least 48 hours for gold-standard laboratory methods of wound infection detection and bacterial identification.
In a collaboration with NHS Ayrshire & Arran clinicians, dressings and swabs were collected from people with diabetes-related foot ulcers at University Hospital Ayr. These samples were then measured at the University of Strathclyde using the novel sensor, revealing that the presence of bacterial infection could be rapidly detected.
The electrochemical technique adopted measures the electrical ‘impedance’ of a sample over a wide range of electrical signal frequencies, creating spectra – formed by measuring how current flows through the bacterial layer at each frequency. Changes to these spectra over time can be investigated, providing information about the microbiological content of the sample. This and a unique mathematical approach to studying the spectra have resulted in patents being granted for the method.
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