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IIT-G builds portable device for rapid detection of bacteria

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Researchers at IIT Guwahati have developed a low-cost and portable device named the Organic Field Effect Transistor (OFET) that has the ability to detect bacteria rapidly without the need for cell culture and microbiological assays.

It was developed in a bid to overcome the prevailing challenge of detecting bacterial infection through time consuming techniques.

According to a journal published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry, the device will enable rapid detection of bacteria, which is important not only in healthcare, but also help in monitoring environmental applications.

At present, the detection of bacteria in body fluids is done in laboratories.

The process involves deriving the cells from the patient that are initially cultured or grown to have sufficient bacterial cells are available for microbiological analysis.

“Current diagnostic processes are frustratingly time-consuming, especially when time is of the essence in administering treatment,” said Professor Parameswar K Iyer from IIT Guwahati.

“While newly developed techniques such as real time qPCR can detect bacteria faster than conventional assay-based methods, they are restricted by the need for expensive apparatuses and trained personnel,” Iyer added.

“What would be useful are hand-held rapid detection kits like those used for blood sugar monitoring and pregnancy detection,” he said.

“It is known that Gram positive bacteria such as S pneumoniae, have different cell wall compositions than Gram negative bacteria such as the common E coli,” said Professor Siddhartha S Ghosh from IIT Guwahati.

“Such asymmetric cell wall organizations could alter flow of electrons at the channel of OFETs during their detection,” Ghosh said.

The OFET is an electronic device that works on the principle that charges in the vicinity of the channels of certain semiconductors can induce a current in them.

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