Chip Detects Antibiotics in Exhaled Breath

Researchers at the University of Freiburg in Germany have developed a chip that can measure antibiotic levels in breath, potentially paving the way for rapid point-of-care antibiotic testing. Attaining the correct levels of antibiotics in the body is crucial to effectively treating infections and avoiding drug side-effects or the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The chip enables rapid and non-invasive antibiotic testing, potentially allowing for personalized drug therapy. Antimicrobial resistance is a growing issue, and owes its proliferation to incorrect antibiotic usage. If administered at too low a dose, resistant microbes can survive and proliferate, contributing to treatment failure and antibiotic resistance. If the dose is too high, then drug side effects can be an issue. However, simply administering the ‘right’ dose is tricky as each patient responds differently, with inter-individual differences in metabolism potentially contributing to drastically different concentrations of an administered antibiotic reaching and staying in the blood. The best way to personalize antibiotic therapy is to directly measure drug levels in the body after administering a dose, and then adjust the dose as necessary to maintain drug levels within an optimal therapeutic window. However, there is a lack of techniques that allow for rapid and non-invasive antibiotic testing. This is where this latest technology aims to make a difference. The chip uses synthetic proteins that are similar to those used by resistant bacteria to sense antibiotics in their environment. “You could say we are beating the bacteria at their own game,” said Wilfried Weber, a researcher involved in the study, in a press release. The small microfluidic chip contains the proteins, which are fixed in place on a polymer film. The antibiotic in a breath sample binds to the proteins, generating a change in an electrical current. “Until now researchers could only detect traces of antibiotics in the breath. With our synthetic proteins on a microfluidic chip, we can determine the smallest concentrations in the breath condensate and they correlate with the blood values,” said Can Dincer, another researcher involved in the study. So far, the team validated that the results from breath analysis correlate with those from blood samples, suggesting that the technology is viable for reliable non-invasive testing. Take a look at a video at this link for more about the technology… Study in Advanced Materials: Biosensor-Enabled Multiplexed On-Site Therapeutic Drug Monitoring of Antibiotics Conn Hastings Conn Hastings received a PhD from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland for his work in drug delivery, investigating the potential of injectable hydrogels to deliver cells, drugs and nanoparticles in the treatment of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. After achieving his PhD and completing a year of postdoctoral research, Conn pursued a career in academic publishing, before becoming a full-time science writer and editor, combining his experience within the biomedical sciences with his passion for written communication.