Researchers have developed a simple point-of-care test for urinary tract infections that utilizes a smartphone camera.
Fremont, CA: The developed system can rapidly identify the presence of E. coli in urine samples. It can guide the doctors in their decision to prescribe antibiotics, ensuring proper and needed patient care, and eliminating the overuse of antimicrobial medication.
Prescribing antibiotics can be tricky and challenging for clinicians at times as unnecessary antibiotic use results in antimicrobial resistance, which can pose significant challenges to healthcare in the coming years. However, if a patient is suffering from an infection, like a urinary tract infection (UTI), then antibiotics are undoubtedly warranted, but sometimes it can be difficult for a clinician to know if a patient’s symptoms are the result of an infection or some other problem.
Currently, bacterial infections in UTIs are confirmed through microbiological testing of the urine sample. Although it is an accurate method, it is time-consuming and can also take several days. Researchers hope that providing medical professionals with the ability to rule in or rule out certain conditions quickly will help them treat patients more rapidly and allow them to make better decisions about prescribing antibiotics.
A new device contains a plastic strip containing microcapillaries, over which a patient can pass a urine sample. Antibodies present in that device will bind to bacteria, in the urine, immobilizing, and then an enzyme causes a color change, which is seen using a smartphone camera. This system can analyze the resulting image and indicate the concentration of bacteria in the sample.
This process takes less than 25 minutes and could be a game-changer in remote or low-resource regions, where getting access to lab tests is unthinkable. The device might also be useful in surgeries and clinics in developed areas because it can help a doctor in a clinic make an informed decision about someone’s treatment and reduce unnecessary antibiotic usage.