World’s most sensitive test to spot superbugs arrives

Toronto, July 7 (IANS) Canadian researchers have developed a new test to spot infectious diseases and some of the world’s deadliest superbugs that is 10,000 times more sensitive than other detection systems.

The new method could lead to unique diagnostic test to easily and quickly identify dangerous pathogens, says the study by researchers from McMaster University in Canada.

“The method, we have developed allows us to detect targets at levels that are unprecedented,” said one of the researchers John Brennan, director of McMaster’s Biointerfaces Institute, where the work was done.

“The test has the best sensitivity ever reported for a detection system of this kind — it is as much as 10,000 times more sensitive than other detection systems,” he said.

“In essence, the new method can pick up any compound that might signal the presence of infectious disease, be it respiratory or gastrointestinal,” the researcher said.

Using sophisticated techniques, the researchers developed a molecular device made of DNA that can be switched ‘on’ by a specific molecule of their choice — such as a certain type of disease indicator or DNA molecule representing a genome of a virus.

Another important advantage of the new test is that the method does not require complicated equipment and tests can be run at room temperature under ordinary conditions, the researchers said.

“This will be the foundation for us to create future diagnostic tests,” Professor Yingfu Li, Canada Research Chair in Nucleic Acids Research at McMaster University, said.

“This invention will allow us to detect anything we might be interested in, bacterial contamination or perhaps a protein molecule that is a cancer marker. Our method can sensitively detect all of them, and it can do so in a relatively short period of time,” Li added.

This new method was described online in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

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