Hand-held device will quickly ID bacteria

Tza-Huei (Jeff)Wang, a mechanical engineering professor affiliated with Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology, received a $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a hand-held device that will quickly indentify bacteria.

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This illustration depicts a microfluidic chip for bacterial detection and drug testing in picoliter-sized droplets. Graphic by Jeff Wang Lab/Johns Hopkins University.

“We need to be faster and more precise in the way we diagnose and treat people with bacterial infections,” said Wang, who is leading the team that will build the new microfluidic testing devices. “Instead of waiting three days to figure out what the infection is and what’s the best drug to treat it, we believe our technology will deliver both answers within just three hours.”

Wang explained that delays in bacterial identification lead physicians to rely on broad spectrum antibiotics, which in turn can lead to drug resistance. Discovering quickly which bug is causing the infection, Wang said “should lead to more effective treatment and a lower risk of promoting antibiotic resistance.”

Wang’s award, which will be distributed over five years toward the development of this life-saving microfluidic device, came from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

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