A new groundbreaking research that endeavours to tackle antibiotic resistance, a major public health concern, as well as provide more efficient viral testing mechanisms is in the offing. Expected to transform the speed of diagnosing infectious and hereditary diseases, the study, published in the current edition of Nature Nanotechnology, is pioneered by JKUAT researcher Dr. Joseph Ndieyira, currently based at the London Centre of Nontechnology, of the University College, London.
What motivated Dr. Ndieyira and his team of researchers to embark on the project is the current HIV testing approach, performed almost at the last stage of the disease, a situation that complicates health care plans for patients, who according to the researcher, sometimes risked death. The new approach makes HIV testing easier and more accessible across a wide range of social and healthcare systems for effective diagnoses and treatments thus preventing the risk of onward transmissions.
The study shows the creation of an ultrasensitive sensor based on mechanical sensors that would be capable of intelligent assessment of antibiotic efficacy, haemophilia and HIV infections within minutes. At the very early stages of HIV infection, the indicators for HIV or markers in a patient’s blood are often very difficult to detect with current point of care tests.
“A technology that is ultrasensitive and selective to low levels of multiple of makers will empower early diagnosis to allow patients to gain earlier access to antiretroviral treatment with better associated health outcomes,” says Dr. Ndieyira
The study also addresses causes of bacterial based morbidity and mortality responsible for millions of deaths worldwide by providing ways of predicting the exact infection causing microorganism and their antibiotic sensitivity patterns. This is unlike the current approach where patients who develop severe bacterial infections are treated empirically without an accurate diagnosis of the causative microorganisms and their antibiotic sensitivity patterns. However, these expensive resources are not available in resource-limited countries and the delay in accurate pathogen-specific diagnoses may result in the prescription of inappropriate antibiotic therapy leading to antibiotic resistance.
It is clear that easily accessible sensitive diagnostics and monitoring facilities with simple to use multiplexed tests will be major drivers to control disease burdens particularly in resource limited countries. Dr Ndieyira and colleagues have designed an array of tiny mechanical sensors, no wider than a human hair. The clear technological innovation will open up a rapid point of care tests that can make a definitive diagnosis of infections, and identify the resistance profile of causative organisms. The data provided by this work provides proof of concept that it is possible to detect in parallel on the same device and with high accuracy different parameters related to coagulation, viral infection and antibiotic efficacy within minutes.
The researchers strongly believe that these findings are the basis for the development of futuristic point of care for clinical areas such as transplant, cancer care and advanced chronic diseases to make the tests suitable and cost effective for use in a primary care setup.
The paper; Decoupling Competing Surface Binding Kinetics and Reconfiguring of Receptor Footprint for Ultrasensitive Stress Assays was published August 17.