UI Researchers Find Staph Infections Faster

By Brady Smith, Anchor/Reporter

Tools

By Brady Smith

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Staph infections afflict a half-million U.S. patients every year, often showing up after surgery, and they're a common problem in hospitals and clinics. Of those people infected, about 20,000 die.

"The bacteria will initially remain localized, but they can spread to the bloodstream, and if that happens, it's a very dangerous situation," James McNamara said.

McNamara, assistant professor of internal medicine, said diagnosing them has always been a slow process.

"The current methods require biopsy and culture, that takes at least 24 hours and often several days, to definitively determine that there is a staph infection," he said.

But McNamara and a team of researchers have developed a "molecular probe," injected directly into the patient's bloodstream.

"It's specifically activated by an enzyme that's expressed by staph," McNamara explained. Within an hour, it shows the exact location of the infection, under near-infared light.

"It becomes fluorescent once it gets activated by the enzyme," McNamara said. "We see it with light, so we shine one wavelength of light on the subject, and then we measure a different wavelength that comes off."

For now, that imaging equipment is in an experimental stage.

"In several years, I would expect there will be some near-infared fluorescence imaging in the clinic," he said.

McNamara is still testing the toxicity of the molecular probe, but he said it appears it should be safe to use on humans. It may be a while before this becomes common practice, but clinicians are watching closely.

"There's a lot of excitement when they see what we're doing," said McNamara.

Conversation Guidelines

Be Kind

Don't use abusive, offensive, threatening, racist, vulgar or sexually-oriented language.
Don't attack someone personally. Keep it civil and be responsible.

Share Knowledge

Be truthful. Share what you know and what you are passionate about.
What more do you want to learn? Keep it simple.

Stay focused

Promote lively and healthy debate. Stay on topic. Ask questions and give feedback on the story's topic.

Report Trouble

Help us maintain a quality comment section by reporting comments that are offensive. If you see a comment that is offensive, or you feel violates our guidelines, simply click on the "x" to the far right of the comment to report it.


read the full guidelines here »

Commenting will be disabled on stories dealing with the following subject matter: Crime, sexual abuse, property fires, automobile accidents, Amber Alerts, Operation Quickfinds and suicides.

facebook twitter rss mobile google plus
email alerts you tube hooplanow pinterest instagram

What's On KCRG