Scientists have developed a new way to examine for and to study infectious agents in the human body using tiny silicon tubes.
The new method uses 5 millimeter silicone tubes that are linked to a sophisticated microscope. This allows scientists not only to look downwards at bacteria, as current technology allows, but also directly within cells. The technology was developed in Denmark at the Core Facility for Integrated Microscopy at the Department of Biomedical Sciences (University of Copenhagen).
According to the University’s press release, the main application of the technology is to study for chronic infections and to look for where larger communities of bacteria have formed (in what is termed a biofilm). Such disease include infections around areas of the body where catheters and implants are inserted, as wells as chronic pneumonia. These areas are examined because such communities are the most resistant to antibiotics.
One of the researchers on the project, Maria Alhede, is quoted by [url=http:// http://www.mpnmagazine.com/x/guideArticle.html?gname=&id=568 t=_blank]MPN as saying “The new method allows us to investigate which compounds the bacteria are secreting while overpowering the white blood cells. Conversely, we can also see what happens when the immune system works. The white blood cells make DNA traps that capture the bacteria, but that used to be only a guess.”
Therefore the new method allows the compounds that bacteria use to overpower the body’s immune system to be visualized. This will provide a clearer understanding of how effective different antibiotics are in the treatment of different diseases. This should help in the development of new medicines. A video of the method has been uploaded by Eureka.
The research team was led by Thomas Bjarnsholt. The technique was reported in the following research paper:
M. van Gennip et al. Interactions between Polymorphonuclear Leukocytes and Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms on Silicone Implants In Vivo. Infection and Immunity, 2012; 80 (8): 2601