Scientists develop quick method for detecting staph infections
Researchers have a developed a noninvasive chemical probe that can detect Staphylococcus aureus in less than an hour. Currently, doctors have to take a biopsy and send for analysis to detect staph infections.
This species of staph is common in hospitals and in the general public, and can cause skin infections that can spread to the joints and bones, and is potentially fatal.
To design the probe, researchers exploited the fact that S. aureus shreds DNA. The probe is a particle made of two molecules; one gives off light under certain conditions, and the other blocks that light. As long as the particle stays whole, no light is given off. But, if the particle is split, then the light-giving molecule is not blocked and starts to give off light.
The way it works is when the molecule encounters staph, the staph cleaves the molecule in half like it does with DNA, thus allowing the one molecule to give off light, which signals that staph is present.
So far, researchers have tested the probe in human serum and mice with muscle infections, and it worked as expected.