Researchers from Freiburg have developed a sensor platform that quantifies antibiotics in human blood within minutes
A team of researchers from the University of Freiburg has developed a system inspired by biology that can detect several different antibiotics in human blood or other fluids at the same time. This biosensor system could be used for medical diagnostics in the future, especially for point-of-care testing in doctors’ practices, on house calls and in pharmacies, as well as in environmental and food safety testing. The researchers focused their study on the antibiotics tetracycline and streptogramin in human blood. “The analysis takes only 10 minutes, from sample to result,” said the microsystems engineer Dr. Can Dincer, who is the head of the research team: “Our study was about demonstrating the applicability of the platform.” The researchers have recently published their results in Analytical Chemistry. Based on these findings, the group is currently working on developing a method to determine how quickly the human body breaks down antibiotics, thus enabling the dosage of medications to be adjusted to each patient. “This technology could pave the way for personalized antibiotic treatments in the future,” Dincer said.
The all-too-frequent use of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine causes pathogens to develop resistance. Multidrug resistant bacteria are the reason for an increasing number of life-threatening infections that are difficult to treat with medications available today. In this context, biosensors have so much potential in research, since they are inexpensive and easy to work with. It is expected that biosensors can be employed to customize antibiotic treatments to fit each patient`s requirements, thereby decreasing the development of resistant bacteria in the future.
The electrochemical biosensor platform was developed by Prof. Dr. Gerald Urban’s research group. It works with extremely small amounts of liquid. “The major advantage of this system is that we can measure up to eight different substances at the same time, quickly and simply,” Dincer said. The researchers combined their chip technology with a method developed earlier by the bioengineering expert Prof. Dr. Wilfried Weber, also from the University of Freiburg. The method is based on a naturally occurring sensor protein in resistant bacteria to recognize antibiotics and activate their defence mechanisms. These bacterial sensors react quickly, sensitively and specifically to antibiotics, which makes them ideal for analytical testing. Essentially, the bacteria are providing the researchers with a tool that can be applied to fight them back in the long-run.
Learn more: Personalized antibiotic treatment
The University of Freiburg (German Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, colloquially Uni Freiburg), sometimes referred to with its full title, the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, is a public research university located in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
The university was founded in 1457 by the Habsburg dynasty as the second university in Austrian-Habsburg territory after the University of Vienna. Today, Freiburg is the fifth-oldest university in Germany, with a long tradition of teaching the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The university is made up of 11 faculties and attracts students from across Germany as well as from over 120 other countries. Foreign students constitute about 16% of total student numbers.
Named as one of elite universities of Germany by academics, political representatives and the media, the University of Freiburg stands amongst Europe’s top research and teaching institutions. With its long-standing reputation of excellence, the university looks both to the past, to maintain its historic academic and cultural heritage, and to the future, developing new methods and opportunities to meet the needs of a changing world.
The University of Freiburg has been home to some of the greatest minds of the Western tradition, including such eminent figures as Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Rudolf Carnap, David Daube, Johann Eck, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Friedrich Hayek, Edmund Husserl, Friedrich Meinecke, and Max Weber. In addition, 19 Nobel laureates are affiliated with the University of Freiburg and 15 academics have been honored with the highest German research prize, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, while working at the University of Freiburg.
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