Toward a fast, simple test for detecting cholera rampaging in 40 countries

Feb 09, 2011

With cholera on the rampage in Haiti and almost 40 other countries, scientists are reporting the development of a key advance that could provide a fast, simple test to detect the toxin that causes the disease. The report appears in ACS' journal Bioconjugate Chemistry. Cholera affects more than 200,000 people annually, mainly in developing countries, and causes about 5,000 deaths. Many involve infants, children, and the elderly.

J. Manuel Perez and colleagues note that cholera is an intestinal infection from food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It produces a toxin that can cause severe , which can lead to rapid and death. Prompt treatment thus is essential, and yet existing tests to diagnose cholera are time-consuming, expensive, and require the use of complex equipment.

The scientists describe a key advance toward a better, faster test. The new method uses specially prepared nanoparticles of , each barely 1/50,000th the width of a single human hair, coated with a type of sugar called dextran.

To achieve this, they looked for specific characteristics of the cholera toxin receptor (GM1) found on cells' surface in the victim's gut, and then they introduced these features to their nanoparticles.

When the magnetic nanoparticles are added to water, blood, or other fluids to be tested, the cholera toxin binds to the nanoparticles in a way that can be easily detected by instruments. The test hardware can be turned into portable gear that health care workers could use in the field, the scientists say. The approach also shows promise for treating cholera intoxication.

Explore further: A closer look at a deadly bacterium sets the stage for new vaccines

More information: "Identification of Molecular-Mimicry-Based Ligands for Cholera Diagnostics using Magnetic Relaxation", Bioconjugate Chemistry.

Related Stories

Cholera vaccine could protect affected communities

Nov 27, 2007

A vaccine used to protect travelers from cholera, an infection characterized by diarrhea and severe dehydration, could also be used effectively among those living in cholera-prone (endemic) areas, according to a research ...

Expect 200,000 Haiti cholera cases: expert

Nov 23, 2010

A top health expert warned on Tuesday that Haiti could face as many as 200,000 cases of cholera in the coming three months and needs urgent supplies to treat an explosion of cases of the deadly disease.

Cholera outbreak reported in Namibia

Mar 12, 2008

Health officials in Namibia say one person has died in a cholera outbreak in the Engela Health District, which has been compromised by floods.

Recommended for you

What happens inside a membrane

May 20, 2015

A new SISSA study has achieved two important results with a single effort: to devise an innovative method to analyse the structure of biological proteins immersed in their physiological context, and to closely ...

Biomedical sensors for disease detection made simple

May 19, 2015

Healthcare researchers are increasingly focused on the early detection and prevention of illnesses. Early and accurate diagnosis is vital, especially for people in developing countries where infectious diseases ...

Studying dynamics of ion channels

May 18, 2015

Scientists from the Vaziri lab at the Vienna Biocenter, together with colleagues at the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics at the University of Chicago, have developed a method using infrared spectroscopy ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.