The University of Southampton

Laser-printed infection tests join fight against superbugs

Published: 28 February 2020

Researchers in the Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics have developed new paper-based infection tests that could slash diagnosis times and help combat antibiotic resistance.

The cheap tests targeted for use at the point of care, would enable doctors to find out which antibiotic, if any, should be given, replacing current laboratory tests that can take up to four days.

Doctors often use broad-action antibiotics as a first line of treatment for common infections, however their overuse can cause more resistant strains to emerge.

Using similar methods to existing pregnancy tests and urine dipsticks, the new test is patterned on sheets of paper by lasers. If bacteria are present in the sample, the paper turns blue and creates a pattern that directs the doctor to prescribe the most suitable antibiotic for treating the infection.

The research, funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and led by Dr Collin Sones , has been published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics and presented this week as part of the Southampton Network on Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP) team at a Superbugs event at the UK Parliament.

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