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Medicine Technology

Microscopic "Tuning Forks" Help Determine Effectiveness of Antibiotics 36

sciencehabit writes "A patient admitted to a hospital with a serious bacterial infection may have only a few hours to live. Figuring out which antibiotic to administer, however, can take days. Doctors must grow the microbes in the presence of the drugs and see whether they reproduce. Rush the process, and they risk prescribing ineffective antibiotics, exposing the patient to unnecessary side effects, and spreading antibiotic resistance. Now, researchers have developed a microscopic 'tuning fork' that detects tiny vibrations in bacteria. The device might one day allow physicians to tell the difference between live and dead microbes—and enable them to recognize effective and ineffective antibiotics within minutes."
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Microscopic "Tuning Forks" Help Determine Effectiveness of Antibiotics

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  • From TFA:

    "It's a brilliant method," provided subsequent investigations confirm the researchers' interpretation of their data

    I can, however, already hear the feet of the major pharmaceutical multinationals stampeding to get to Dublin....

  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Monday July 01, 2013 @05:56PM (#44159615)

    Since you're most likely to contract a hard to cure hospital..

    • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Monday July 01, 2013 @06:26PM (#44159849) Homepage Journal

      Medical error ranks third [] among causes of death in the US.

      Estimates of risk vary depending on which complications are counted, but it's always in the top 10. Any trip to the hospital results in a 1 in 300 [] chance of dying from medical mistake. For comparison, your chance of dying in an airplane accident is 1 in 10,000,000 per flight.

      A rational plan would spend time and effort where it will do the most good. Instead of inventing new cures and treatments, perhaps we should be looking into ways to make our existing process safer?

      For comparison, the risk of death by medical error is higher than the risk of death from diabetes. I'm not saying that diabetes research should be halted, but shouldn't higher risk factors be addressed as well?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The "EHR" is working on it, though whether it will succeed or not is anyone's guess. Maybe after everything is barcoded out the wazoo with 50 things to beep for each step of the hospital stay, they'll be able to get your kosher bacon cheeseburger mostly correct. One of these bracelets has the barcode that I need to beep to get the right baggie to put on the IV stand (that needs to also be beeped) before I can beep the needle and finally beep the valve to open it to the correct drip rate.

        Fighting against t

      • While I don't dispute that there can be improvement in hospital processes, many of these people who died were already at risk. If I have a heart attack, a 0.3% risk of dying through medical error at the hospital is nothing compared to my risk if I don't go to the hospital. What was the average risk of death had a patient not undergone a hospital procedure? Maybe there are classes of patients who should not undergo procedures! It isn't terribly informative to quote such a statistic without any context, and w

    • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

      Since you're most likely to contract a hard to cure hospital..

      After 5 return visits to an un-named hospital, notorious for infections, I used MMS - Master Mineral Solution - and have yet to see a recurrence of the infection two years later. The hospital insisted on a 5 day, intravenous, in hospital, course of treatment followed by an at home one week oral course. Within weeks I was re-hospitalized worse than before. To boot, they used IRS to get their money taken from my tax return, how nice. Talk about a monopoly, infect, treat, re-infect, re-treat, etc, etc, etc, ye

  • An RNASeq run, either targeted to the ribosome or total (given that rRNA takes the lion's share) is a little bit quicker than culture, as long as the bioinformatics side of it is appropriately set up (e.g. massively parallel mapping, and automated count summarisation).

    Sample preparation will take a few hours, and there are sequencers that will get results out in a few hours -- the mythical Oxford nanopore sequencers will speed both of these things up as well.

  • by TheSwift ( 2714953 ) on Monday July 01, 2013 @06:18PM (#44159787)

    "We made a tiny bar that vibrates when it's surrounded by bacteria! It stopped vibrating when the bacteria were given antibiotics and we think this means the bacteria were dead. We don't know why it vibrates and currently we have no way of telling the difference between different kinds of bacteria."

    Cool technology, but keep your pants on. This has very little application for a very long time.

  • by transporter_ii ( 986545 ) on Monday July 01, 2013 @07:53PM (#44160559) Homepage

    They should proceed with caution. They could end up quacks at any time. The famous Royal Rife machine used vibrations to kil bacteria. And here it is, all these years later, and it turns out bacteria *does* vibrate:

    Rife also reported that a 'beam ray' device of his invention could weaken or destroy the pathogens by energetically exciting destructive resonances in their constituent chemicals.[4]

  • read "Microsoft" the first time when I saw the news in reader and was "Wtf? Microsoft Tuning Fork? Parsing error!" and now after opening the story did the same thing again ;)

  • There is already a fast way to tell if bacteria are dead or alive; it's called live/dead staining []. Basically, it stains living cells one fluorescent colour and dead cells another. You can then look at the sample under a fluorescent microscope or with a flow cytometer to quantify the amount of killing caused by the antibiotic.

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