To identify bacterial pathogens and determine the best antibiotics to use, clinical laboratories use ‘culture and sensitivity’, or growth of bacteria on selective media. This process takes days to yield results, which is a long time during a bacterial infection. Last year, our team, led by postdoctoral fellow Huan Peng, showed how phage-gold nanoparticle conjugates could be used to detect bacteria simply and quickly, in less than half an hour. Now we also demonstrate how to use this technique to determine bacterial sensitivity to different antibiotics in a few hours. Rapid diagnostics such as these could help physicians choose the right antibiotics early in an infection.

Peng H and Chen IA. Rapid colorimetric detection of bacterial species through capture of gold nanoparticles by chimeric phages. ACS Nano, 13 (2), 1244–1252

Peng H, Borg RE, Nguyen A, Chen IA. Chimeric phage-nanoparticles for rapid characterization of bacterial pathogens: detection in complex biological samples and determination of antibiotic sensitivity. ACS Sensors, 5:5, 1491–1499