Detecting bacterial infestations within the GI system, particularly using low cost methods, takes so much time that treatment is often administered too late. Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a particular nasty nuisance that kills many frail patients, and even with a hospital lab it can take up to two days to get the results.
Researchers at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) have developed fluorescent microrobots that can spot C. diff in a stool sample within a matter of minutes without relying on expensive laboratory equipment.
The technology relies on fungi spore-inspired microrobots that feature fluorescent functionalised carbon nanodots. When the microrobots encounter toxins produced by C. diff, the brightness of the fluorescence changes, something that can be detected with digital photo equipment.
The process is accelerated by the shape and structure of the microrobots, which spread throughout a diluted stool sample and quickly come in contact with as much as the present toxins as possible. This “active” process also helps to detect low concentrations of toxins, according to the researchers.
Additionally, because the microrobots have iron-based nanoparticles in their structure, they can be manipulated by an external magnetic field and gathered together for best visualization.
Study in journal Science Advances: Real-time tracking of fluorescent magnetic spore–based microrobots for remote detection of C. diff toxins…