Nanoparticle-based innovation for rapid detection of pneumonia: MIT researchers

Dec 3, 2018, 9:30 am

Moupiya D.

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Pneumonia often takes several days to return definitive results especially in hospital-acquired cases which are often more severe. In an innovative research, a nano-particle based technology developed by MIT researchers could be used to speed up the diagnoses of pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a respiratory disease killing about 50,000 people in an average in the United States every year. Hence an effective innovation by the researchers to enhance the speed of diagnosis. This sort of diagnosis could likewise be also utilized to screen whether antibiotic treatment has effectively treated the contamination or not.

Through this new study, scientists wanted to explore the possibility of diagnosing infection by detecting proteases that are produced by microbes. They began with a specified species of bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is suspected to cause pneumonia and is a particularly common cause of hospital-acquired cases. Pseudomonas expresses a protease called LasA, so the researchers designed nanoparticles with peptides that can be cleared by LasA.

Bhatia, the senior author of the study has already developed a diagnostic approach that amplifies a signal from biomarkers already present in the body called protease. The human genome encodes more than 500 diff kinds of proteases each of which has their target on different proteins.

Scientists also showed that if they treated mice with an ineffective antibiotic, both bacteria levels and inflammation levels stayed high. This kind of test could help to find result whether an antibiotic is working in cases where a patient’s symptoms haven’t improved within a few days.

Bhatia imagines that this methodology could be utilized to decide if a patient has bacterial or viral pneumonia, which would assist specialists in deciding if the patient ought to be given anti-infection agents or not. The complete test, growing a bacterial culture from hacked up bodily fluid, takes a few days, so specialists base their choices on the patients’ indications and X-ray imaging – a procedure that may not generally be precise.

The researchers are also working on sensors that could easily distinguish between an active and dormant form of tuberculosis.

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