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Ultrafast and Ultrasensitive Naked-Eye Detection of Urease-Positive Bacteria with Plasmonic Nanosensors

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journal contribution
posted on 14.03.2019, 00:00 by Giulia Santopolo, Antonio Doménech-Sánchez, Steven M. Russell, Roberto de la Rica
Identifying the pathogen responsible for an infection is a requirement in order to personalize antimicrobial treatments. Detecting bacterial enzymes, such as proteases, lipases, and oxidoreductases, is a winning approach for detecting pathogens at the point of care. In this Article, a new method for detecting urease-producing bacteria rapidly and at ultralow concentrations is reported. In this method, longsome bacteriological culture steps are substituted for a 10 min capture procedure with positively charged magnetic beads. The presence of urease-positive bacteria on the particles is then queried with a plasmonic signal generation step that generates blue- or red-colored nanoparticle suspensions upon addition of the enzyme substrate. These colorimetric signals, which can be easily identified by eye, are generated by the NH3-dependent assembly of gold nanoparticles in the presence of bovine serum albumin (BSA). The proposed method can detect Proteus mirabilis with a limit of detection of 101 cells mL–1, with a total assay time of 40 min, even in the presence of a large excess of urease-negative bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa). Furthermore, it does not require bulky equipment, and it can detect P. mirabilis at clinically relevant concentrations within minutes, making it suitable for detecting urease-positive pathogens at the point of care.