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: Jumping hurdles in the RNA world

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Jumping hurdles in the RNA world

Nov 21, 2014

Astrobiologists have shown that the formation of RNA from prebiotic reactions may not be as problematic as scientists once thought.

New computer model sets new precedent in drug discovery

Nov 18, 2014

A major challenge faced by the pharmaceutical industry has been how to rationally design and select protein molecules to create effective biologic drug therapies while reducing unintended side effects - a challenge that has ...

Finding new ways to make drugs

Nov 18, 2014

Chemists have developed a revolutionary new way to manufacture natural chemicals and used it to assemble a scarce anti-inflammatory drug with potential to treat cancer and malaria.

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.