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New blood test uncovers hidden microbes

November 24, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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Researchers at the University of California Irvine have developed a new blood test that can rapidly and accurately diagnose bloodstream infections.

These largely antibiotic-resistant infections afflict more than 2 million people a year worldwide and result in about 23,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. 

Led by Weian Zhao, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, the team used IC 3D technology that can detect bacteria in the blood within 90 minutes and does not require a cell culture.

The technology first converts a blood sample into billions of droplets then, using a fluorescent DNA sensor solution that is infused into these droplets, detects only those with bacterial markers.

“We are extremely excited about this technology because it addresses a long-standing unmet medical need in the field,” Zhao said in a press release. “As a platform technology, it may have many applications in detecting extremely low-abundance biomarkers in other areas, such as cancers, HIV and, most notably, Ebola.”

A detailed report of the test's development appeared online in Nature Communications.