Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Chinese Scientists Develop Silicon Chip that Detects Different Pathogens in Blood

Cancer cases in China

(Photo : Reuters) Blood samples of cancer patients in China.

Scientists from China have created a silicon chip built with nanoparticles. These chips can rapidly detect any of the different forms of pathogens in anyone's blood samples.

The chip is seen as an affordable and rapid replacement to current diagnostic tools that are being used in hospitals. The medical community has constant concerns over the breadth of pathogens in people's blood samples.

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If the looming threat of resistant pathogens is left untreated, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) says that true cost of antimicrobial resistance could reach up to 300 million premature deaths and up to US$100 trillion lost to the economy by 2050.

Over the past 25 years, there has only been one potential class of antibiotics discovered.

The fact has led scientists and doctors down the path of pre-emptive diagnostic tools that could negate the need for such antibiotics while also preventing a global health crisis.

While the development of the diagnostic tools is progressing, it's not progressing fast enough to diagnose the patients quickly enough.

Enter the Surface-enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS).

SERS is a new piece of technology that can distinguish between different molecules. It can do this by analyzing the protons bouncing off them, in turn creating a unique kind of "fingerprint."

Yao He from Soochow University in China said in order for SERS to be applied practically, it's necessary to create a, "highly efficient multifunctional platform."

The platform was created by embedding silver nanoparticles into a silicon wafer. The chip was modified even more by anchoring 4-mercaptophenylboronic acid (4-MPBA) to the surface of the chip.

The 4-MPBA is a common agent that binds bacteria. Attached to the surface of the chip, it captures and increases the range of bacteria.

TRSC reported "the SERS chip could detect both pathogens down to concentrations of a few hundred colony-forming units per millilitre."

The chip is currently being tested before being widely adopted in clinical settings.

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