New test detects Escherichia coli infection in urine with a smartphone

A new test for urinary tract infections that is much more practical and faster, so much so that results could be obtained in as little as 25 minutes, was developed by a group of biological engineers at the University of Bath. According to the researchers, the new test can analyze urine and identify the presence of pathogenic bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, in just 25 minutes, a time that is faster than any other test, of the same level of accuracy, ever created.

Such a test could be very useful especially in developing countries and in remote regions where other types of tests are not possible and where the only method is to send the urine sample to distant structures, with a lengthening of time. The test was created mainly to verify the presence of Escherichia coli in urine, a bacterium that can lead to urinary tract infections and is usually treated with antibiotics.

The study, published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics, describes how the test uses antibodies to identify bacterial cells. The test involves placing a small urine sample on a plastic strip that contains an immobilizing antibody to recognize the cells of Escherichia coli bacteria. Thanks to a special enzyme added to the strip, a colour change takes place which can be detected by a smartphone camera.

This is a faster method than the microbiological ones that are currently used. The device that allows you to perform the test is also very small, and therefore almost portable, something that could allow rapid diagnosis of urinary tract infections, in turn something that would be very important and that would allow prescriptions much more proven than antibiotics.