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Infections

The prototype biospleen and components (Image: DARPA)

Today, when we think of the dangers of the battlefield, we think of wounds caused by bullets, bombs, and other weapons. But as late as the Spanish American war of 1898, the number of soldiers who died from infectious diseases as opposed to directly from combat injuries was seven to one. Thanks to the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics, that ratio has swung dramatically the other way, but it’s still a major problem, not only for military personnel, but civilians too. DARPA is developing an artificial spleen, or "biospleen," as a way to help fight deadly infections without antibiotics.  Read More

A unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in the honey stomach of bees shows promise...

We've seen several promising developments arise in recent years in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or so-called "superbugs", from antibiotic "smart bombs" and hydrogels to "ninja polymers" and natural proteins. The latest potential weapon to join the armory comes from a substance used for thousands of years to fight infections – raw honey.  Read More

A new antibacterial gel has been shown to penetrate and kill off certain kinds of superbug...

Drug-resistant bacteria, or so-called superbugs, pose a very real threat to public health. The over prescription and consumption of antibiotics has contributed to a resilient new breed of germs that could see minor infections once again evolve into life-threatening conditions. The latest development in the fight against this threat comes from scientists at Queens University in Belfast, who have produced an antibacterial gel capable of breaking through a protective casing and killing off certain types of drug-resistant bacteria.  Read More

Tokia University researchers have developed a nanosheet material that clings to irregular ...

Even with advances in gels and dressings, burns remain a difficult injury to treat. This applies particularly to parts of the body where the skin bends around bones and joints, creating surfaces unfavorable to most types of bandaging. But researchers from Japan's Tokai University have developed a new ultra-thin material that clings to those trickier locations, serving to ward off infectious bacteria.  Read More

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

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