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Researchers use green gold to rapidly detect and identify harmful bacteria

Researchers have developed a method to screen and identify harmful or antibiotic-resistant bacteria within one hour using a portable luminometer. It was developed with the food industry in mind and could also be used in healthcare settings. Traditional diagnostic methods often require complex equipment and lab work that can take days. The new method uses chemiluminescence, or the emission of light during a chemical reaction. In their study, the researchers demonstrated the new technology by analyzing surface swabs and urine samples for the presence of small concentrations of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacteria that causes more than 11,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. To screen for microorganisms, green gold in the form of triangular nanoplates was combined with a reducing agent and luminol. This caused a strong chemiluminescent reaction that was stable for as long as 10 minutes. When researchers introduced MRSA and other microorganisms into the combination, they consumed the gold nanoplates, causing the chemiluminescent intensity to decrease proportionally to the microbial concentration. This indicated a presence of microorganisms. The researchers also introduced a new concept called microbial macromolecular shielding to specifically identify MRSA. A polymer specific to MRSA was added to the same sample where it engulfed and surrounded the MRSA bacteria, preventing them from consuming the gold nanoplates. This increased chemiluminescence intensity, indicating the presence of MRSA.

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