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: Lipoic acid helps restore, synchronize the 'biological clock'

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

Chemists eye improved thin films with metal substitution

14 hours ago

The yield so far is small, but chemists at the University of Oregon have developed a low-energy, solution-based mineral substitution process to make a precursor to transparent thin films that could find use ...

Essential oils may provide good source of food preservation

18 hours ago

A new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), found that essential oils may be able to be used as food preservatives in packaging to help extend the shelf-life of foo ...

Researchers create safe, resistant material to store waste

21 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Storing industrial waste has never been a pretty job, and it's getting harder. New techniques for refining such metals as aluminum and vanadium, for example, also yield new byproducts that have ...

User comments : 0