Tag Archives: golden staph

Using quantum dots and a smartphone to find killer bacteria

Australian scientists develop cheap and rapid way to identify antibiotic-resistant golden staph (MRSA).

Researchers Anwar Sunna (right) and Vinoth Kumar Rajendran with their smartphone-enabled MRSA detector.
Credit: Sunna Lab

A combination of off-the-shelf quantum dot nanotechnology and a smartphone camera soon could allow doctors to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria in just 40 minutes, potentially saving patient lives.

Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph), is a common form of bacterium that causes serious and sometimes fatal conditions such as pneumonia and heart valve infections. Of particular concern is a strain that does not respond to methicillin, the antibiotic of first resort, and is known as methicillin-resistant S. aureus, or MRSA.

Recent reports estimate that 700 000 deaths globally could be attributed to antimicrobial resistance, such as methicillin-resistance. Rapid identification of MRSA is essential for effective treatment, but current methods make it a challenging process, even within well-equipped hospitals.

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Insect wings beat superbugs

Nanoscale spikes on dragonfly wings are inspiring materials that kill bacteria, including deadly antibiotic-resistant golden staph (Staphylococcus aureus).

Wandering percher dragonfly, Diplacodes bipunctata. Credit: Jean, via Encyclopedia of Life (CC BY-NC)

Elena Ivanova and her fellow researchers at Swinburne University of Technology were studying self-cleaning surfaces in nature when they discovered bacteria being killed on the wings of the clanger cicada, Psaltoda claripennis, a species mostly found in Queensland.

The secret seemed to lie in millions of tiny rounded spikes, or nanopillars, each a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair.

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