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Infections

Electron micrograph of a flagellated Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, an infectious agent...

It is estimated that every year in America there are around 76 million food-borne illnesses that result in 325,000 hospitalizations and over 5,000 deaths. One of the main causes is the disease "Listeria", which has the highest hospitalization (92 per cent) and death (18 per cent) rate among all food-borne pathogen infections. Now researchers at the University of Southampton say that they are trialling a device designed to detect these bacteria directly on food preparation services, and without the need to send samples away for laboratory testing.  Read More

Antibacterial fabric developed at RMIT kills E. coli (pictured) and other infectious bacte...

With a well established ability to kill off bacteria, silver has come to play a significant role in the development of antimicrobial materials. Indeed, we've seen it used in keyboards, built into water filtration systems and deployed in washing machines as a means of fending off germs. The latest effort to harness the bacteria-fighting qualities of silver comes from researchers at Australia's RMIT University working with scientists from the CSIRO, who have developed an antibacterial fabric capable of killing off E. coli and other infectious bacteria within 10 minutes of contact.  Read More

An optofluidic chip uses fluorescence to detect virus particles

To monitor their infection levels, people carrying chronic viral infections such as hepatitis and HIV need to get their viral load regularly checked. This measures how many viruses are present in a certain volume of blood or bodily fluid with current tests being expensive and needing to be done through laboratories. However, newly developed optical techniques being developed by two independent teams at the University of California could deliver cheaper and faster viral load tests that could be carried out in a medical office, hospital or even in the field.  Read More

The intelligentM bracelet monitors the hand-washing activities of healthcare workers, to m...

Although it may be surprising to hear that being in the hospital can make a person sick, it definitely does happen. In the United States, about one in every 20 people admitted to a hospital will end up with a healthcare acquired infection, or HAI. Of those people, approximately 100,000 die from such infections annually. One of the keys to reducing the occurrence of HAIs is to get healthcare workers to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly – which is just what the intelligentM bracelet is designed to do.  Read More

The new infection-indicating dressing on a healthy skin sample (R) and on an infected skin...

Serious burns can lead to infection and potentially fatal toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Once an infection sets in, it is vital to begin treatment quickly to avoid or minimize a transition to TSS. The problem is, removing dressings to check for infection can be painful, slow the healing process and increase the chance of scarring. A prototype dressing developed by chemists at the University of Bath in the UK alerts doctors to the first signs of infection by glowing under ultraviolet (UV) light.  Read More

Harvard's spleen-on-a-chip blood filtration device

The spleen’s job is to filter our blood. When people are critically ill or have received traumatic injuries, however, the spleen alone is sometimes not able to remove enough of the pathogens on its own – potentially-fatal sepsis is the result. In order to help avert such an outcome in those situations, scientists from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University are developing a device known as the spleen-on-a-chip.  Read More

Blue light has been used to kill potentially-lethal Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria (pictu...

Over the past few years, blue light has allowed us to understand heart problems, control brain functions, and activate muscle tissue. Now, another biomedical function can be added to its list – because it’s known to have antimicrobial qualities, it’s been used to stop infections of the skin and soft tissues.  Read More

Microbiologist Emma Allen-Vercoe and her lab team, whipping up a batch of RePOOPulate

If the clostridium difficile bacterium becomes over-abundant in a person’s colon, the results can include gastrointestinal problems such as severe diarrhea. Ordinarily, c. difficile populations are kept in check by the usually-present beneficial gut bacteria. If those “good” bacteria are killed off as a side effect of taking antibiotics, however, the nasties can take over. The treatment? Well ... it often involves having another person’s stool implanted in your gut via enema. Yikes. Fortunately, a less icky treatment is in the works, that involves the use of a “synthetic poop” known as RePOOPulate.  Read More

A 3D image of a rotavirus, constructed from data gathered using the new technique

Traditionally, in order to view tiny biological structures such as viruses, they must first be removed from their natural habitats and frozen. While this certainly keeps them still for the microscope, it greatly limits what we can learn about them – it’s comparable to an ichthyologist only being able to study dead fish in a lab, instead of observing live ones in the ocean. Now, however, researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have devised a technique for observing live viruses in a liquid environment. It could have huge implications for the development of treatments for viral infections.  Read More

The spores of the Bacillus subtilis (pictured above) have been implemented into a vaccine ...

Taking the “ouch” out of injections is a worthy endeavor, but what if they could be avoided entirely? New research conducted at Royal Holloway, University of London offers the hope of achieving just this, by using a bacterium to deliver a vaccine which can be administered via nasal spray, oral liquid, capsule, or small soluble film placed under the tongue, thus reducing the risk of spreading infectious diseases like HIV.  Read More

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