In an ordinary setting, the identification of specific bacteria normally requires expensive compounds that frequently have to be kept cold before use. This can preclude rapid identification outside of a hospital setting.
“In contrast, the process employed in our research allows us to use readily available materials which do not require ‘cold-chain’ storage, and thus are adaptable for less specialised laboratory settings,” explained Dr David Bradshaw, another GSK principal scientist and co-author of the study.
The research published in the journal Nature Materials, suggests that this new method of detecting harmful bacteria could be particularly important in the developing world and emerging markets, where access to sophisticated laboratory equipment and materials may be limited.
“The really intriguing part of this study was the realisation that we could ‘hijack’ the machinery that bacteria normally use to control their local environment, and use it against them” says Prof Cameron Alexander, who led the study from the School of Pharmacy in Nottingham.
Longer term, the researchers hope to enlarge the family of building blocks to generate polymers with more selective bacterial binding properties.
The study was co-sponsored and funded by GSK Consumer Healthcare’s Oral Healthcare R&D organisation, the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through a programme that offers collaborative training grants to PhD candidates.