Faster way of detecting antibiotic resistance developed by researchers – University of Sheffield News

§ November 6th, 2020 § Filed under Nanotechnology Journal Comments Off on Faster way of detecting antibiotic resistance developed by researchers – University of Sheffield News

3 November 2020

A new, quicker way of detecting antibiotic resistance in bacteria has been developed by a team of scientists from the EPSRC funded interdisciplinary research collaboration, i-sense.

The new technique, developed by a collaborative team of researchers including a scientist from the University of Sheffield, uses nanotechnology to detect antibiotic resistance in approximately 45 minutes.

The standard method for detecting resistance is a relatively slow process that typically takes between 12 and 24 hours. The ability to reduce this time could significantly help the ongoing battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria - a problem which is predicted to cause 10 million deaths per year and cost the global economy $100 trillion by 2050.

Speeding up the time it takes to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria could improve our ability to prescribe antibiotics correctly and reduce the misuse of antibiotic treatments - a key step in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

The new method developed by Dr Isabel Bennett from UCL in collaboration with Dr Alice Pyne from the University of Sheffields Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Professor Rachel McKendry from UCL uses a new Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) detection system.

This method uses a nanomechanical cantilever sensor together with a laser to detect single bacterial cells as they pass through the lasers focus, which provides a simple readout of antibiotic resistance by detecting growth (resistant) or death (sensitive) of the bacteria.

By placing a reflective surface - a small stiff cantilever - in a filtered growth medium in a petri dish and reflecting a laser off it onto a photodiode detector, it is possible to detect bacteria as they pass through the path of the laser, therefore altering the signal at the detector. Following the addition of the antibiotic to the petri dish, the study has shown that it is possible to detect whether fewer bacteria interfere with the laser beam, thereby indicating cell death in the antibiotic-sensitive bacteria.

The new technique developed by Dr Bennett builds on an AFM method from a previous study, however Dr Bennetts method doesnt require the bacteria to be immobilised - making the new detection system much faster.

Dr Bennett said: Our method allowed us to quickly differentiate between resistant and sensitive phenotypes in multiple strains of E. coli, a bacteria implicated in a number of challenging infections including UTIs.

Dr Alice Pyne from the University of Sheffield added: We were able to show that our faster method was able to reproduce values from gold standard measurements, such as MICs in a fraction of the time.

The study, Cantilever Sensors for Rapid Optical Antimicrobial Sensitivity Testing, was conducted by Dr Isabel Bennett as part of her PhD supervised by Dr Alice Pyne and Professor Rachel McKendry.

The research by the all-female team of scientists is published in the journal ACS Sensors. The journal has published an interview with Dr Bennett following the paper being selected as an ACS editors choice. The interview can be accessed via:

To access the paper in full, visit:

Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the worlds leading universities.

A member of the UKs prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

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Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

About i-sense

i-sense is an EPSRC funded Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration working to develop tools and technologies to track, test and treat infectious diseases. The project aims to build a new generation of digital sensing systems to identify and prevent outbreaks of infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance, much earlier than ever before.

Our mission strongly aligns to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Challenge Research Fund. We work in partnership with end users in low and middle-income countries, to build innovative digital technologies that meet their needs. I Follow @isenseIRC on Twitter

For further information please contact:

Sean Barton Media Relations Officer The University of Sheffield 0114 222 9852

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Faster way of detecting antibiotic resistance developed by researchers - University of Sheffield News

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