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A Device for Rapid Diagnosis of Nosocomial Infections

A device for rapid diagnosis of nosocomial infections (Courtesy of MGH)

A team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has been working on a portable device for rapidly identifying pathogens responsible for healthcare-related infections, a major problem that can lead to patient death. This new technology reduces identification time from several days to a matter of hours.

Described in the journal Science Advances, the new technology allows a simple device to perform accurate genetic testing. It uses extracted bacterial RNA amplified via the polymerase chain reaction procedure.

The material is loaded into a small plastic vial with built-in optical sensors. The sensors identify the optical signature of specific RNA sequences correlated to the presence of certain bacteria in a process called polarization anisotropy diagnostics (PAD).

The system can display results on a tablet or smartphone. According to MGH, one day a single, unified device may be able to perform all the steps, from sample collection to output.


About the Author

Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She's the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.

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