Staphylococcus or Staph aureus is a type of infectious bacteria that commonly causes skin and respiratory infections in addition to food poisoning. In some cases, it can lead to life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, and brain, bone or heart infections. As well, it’s a common hospital acquired infection.
Now, a team of scientists from Saudi Arabia and Jordan have developed a point-of-care diagnostic test as effective in food samples as it is in clinical samples to detect the bacteria. It’s cheap, instrument-free, and takes less than a minute, according to lead researcher Mohammed Zourob, professor of chemistry at Alfaisal University in Saudi Arabia.
The researcher and his colleagues tested the biosensor in food and clinical isolates from a hospital but instead of targeting bacterial cells, as traditional sensors would, they targeted poteases enzymes released by the cells or expressed on the cells’ surface. The former’s sensitivity is too poor to detect infectious dozes of most bacteria, according to Zourob, unlike the latter method, invented by Zourob et al.
The probe itself is made up of a specific peptide sequence, cleaved by Staph aureus proteases, and sandwiched between magnetic nanobeads and gold surface on top of a paper support.
Another perk to the test, according to its developer, is that it does not require special training to use, so it can be easily administered by food inspectors and hospital nurses.
Zourob and his colleagues say they are now establishing a spin off in order to commercialize this new technology.