Infectious diseases such as hepatitis C and some of the world's deadliest superbugs - C. difficile and MRSA among them - could soon be detected much earlier by a unique diagnostic test, designed to easily and quickly identify dangerous pathogens.
Researchers have developed a new way to detect the smallest traces of metabolites, proteins or fragments of DNA. In essence, the new method can pick up any compound that might signal the presence of infectious disease, be it respiratory or gastrointestinal. This new method is described in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
Using sophisticated techniques, 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 - an action that leads to a massive, amplified signal which can be easily spotted.
"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." Another important advantage of the new test, say researchers, is that the method does not require complicated equipment so tests can be run at room temperature under ordinary conditions.
"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."
The researchers are currently working to move the test onto a paper surface to create a portable point-of-care test, which would completely eliminate the need for lab instruments, allowing users - family physicians, for example - to run the test.
Based on material originally posted by McMaster University.