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Coming Soon: Tuberculosis Detection with a Chip?

Many of the new techniques based on nanotechnology that have been developed for faster and more sensitive detection of pathogens fail in day-to-day clinical use because they require complex sample preparation or measurement equipment, or simply cannot keep up with the large sample throughput in a clinic. Researchers working with Ralph Weissleder at Harvard Medical School have now developed a very simple process for the rapid detection of pathogens that requires no further sample preparation.

As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, this technique is based on magnetic nanoparticles and a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) measurement.

For their tests, the researchers used the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), a mycobacterium named after its developers, which was cultured from bovine tuberculosis bacilli in the early twentieth century. This is a weakened strain that is used as a live vaccine against tuberculosis. In addition, it serves as a model for the true tuberculosis pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis for research purposes.

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