Tag Archives: drug resistant antibiotic

Researchers develop new bandage that senses and treats drug-resistant bacteria

Resistance to antibiotics is one of the main threats to global health, with two million new infections in the US every year showing resistance to antibiotics. That’s why identifying and treating bacterial infections earlier is key, helping to improve patients’ recovery and reducing the spread of microbes.

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A team of researchers reporting in the American Chemical Society developed a set of bandages that change their color by sensing drug-resistant and drug-sensitive bacteria in wounds, also treating them accordingly.

Xiaogang Qu from the University of Science and Technology of China and a group of colleagues created a material that goes from green to yellow by contacting the acidic microenvironment caused by a bacterial infection. The material is incorporated into the bandage and releases an antibiotic that kills the drug-resistant bacteria.

“We constructed a portable paper-based band-aid (PBA) which implements a selective antibacterial strategy after sensing of drug resistance. The colors of PBA indicate bacterial infection (yellow) and drug resistance (red), just like a bacterial resistance colorimetric card,” the researchers wrote.

The bandages turn red in color if in the presence of a drug-resistant bacterium, all thanks to the action of an enzyme produced by said microbes. When that happens, the researchers shine light on the bandage, which causes the release of reactive oxygen species that kill or weaken the bacteria.

“Compared with traditional PDT-based antibacterial strategies, our design can alleviate off-target side effects, maximize therapeutic efficacy, and track the drug resistance in real-time with the naked eye. This work develops a new way for the rational use of antibiotics,” the researchers wrote.

Thanks to their work, the team proved that the bandage speeds up the healing of wounds in mice that had been infected with drug-sensitive or drug-resistant bacteria. Now, the challenge will be to expand its use to practical applications, which the teams believes possible due to the low cost and the easy operation of the device.

This is not the first time a smart band-aid is developed for diverse applications. Researchers in Zurich developed a type of bandage that simultaneously repels blood and promotes clotting, while researchers in the US are looking at synthesizing spider silk for a new time of bandage.

New simple genetic test could distinguish between viral and bacterial infections

It may not seem like much, but by differentiating between bacterial and viral fevers, this new test could help doctors decide whether or not to prescribe antibiotics.

virus bacteria

Fevers are a common symptom in many infectious diseases, but it’s often difficult to know if the cause is bacterial or viral, and thus, antibiotics are often needlessly prescribed, something which in the long run does a great harm to humanity, because more often than not, some germs survive the treatment, and they are “trained” to resist antibiotics. Some have classified drug-resistant germs as dangerous as terrorism.

However, by measuring the gene activity in the blood of 22 sick children, Gregory Storch, a pediatrician and infectious disease researcher at Washington University in St. Louis was able to distinguish between fevers caused by bacteria and viruses. He and his team found that even though the activity of hundreds of genes was affected by the fever as the immune system tried to cope with the threat, gauging the response of just 18 genes could correctly distinguish between viral and bacterial infections 90 percent of the time.

The research is a step toward improving diagnosis. In the future, being able to quickly determine the cause of fevers should help prevent unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions – antibiotics kill bacteria, but are pretty much useless against viruses.

Scientific reference: X. Hu et al. Gene expression profiles in febrile children with defined viral and bacterial infection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published online July 15, 2013. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1302968110