Researchers in Edinburgh are working on “biochip” technology which could ultimately boost the fight against deadly hospital infections by allowing medics to work out which drugs would be guaranteed not to work against certain diseases.
The scientists at Edinburgh University are currently developing their technology in relation to blood infections, but it is hoped that their findings could eventually help in the battle against diseases such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile.
Lead researcher Dr Till Bachmann said the technology uses microsensors to read the genetic code of bacteria in samples provided by patients. This is then scanned by a microchip to identify the germ type and its strain.
The technology would reveal what drugs a certain bug is resistant to, potentially improving and speeding up treatment and telling medics what drugs not to use. “We see it as is a supplement to conventional medicine,” he said.
Dr Bachmann said his team was looking at infections of the bloodstream, such as septicaemia, where it is vital to get an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible. He said the principle behind the work “can be applied to any bug” and agreed it could have implications for the fight against so-called hospital superbugs.
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