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Detecting bacteria with fluorescent nanosensors

A new method has been developed for detecting bacteria and infections.

German scientists are behind the technique, which uses fluorescent nanosensors to track down pathogens.

They claim it is faster and easier to perform than established methods, which require tissue samples to be analysed.

The team of scientists hopes to eliminate the need to take samples by using tiny optical sensors to visualise pathogens directly at the site of infection.

The sensors are based on modified carbon nanotubes with a diameter of less than one nanometre.

If they are irradiated with visible light, they emit light in the near-infrared range, which is not visible to humans. The fluorescence behaviour changes when the nanotubes collide with certain molecules in their environment.

Since bacteria secrete a characteristic mix of molecules, the light emitted by the sensors can thus indicate the presence of certain pathogens. In a new paper, the research team describes sensors that detect and differentiate harmful pathogens that are associated with, for example, implant infections.

Image Credit | iStock

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