Posted in | News | Biosensors

Prototype Device to Smell Stool and Diagnose <i>Clostridium difficile</i> Infection

The bacteria that is responsible for diarrhea is emerging as a health problem worldwide due to the presence of new Clostridium difficile strains. It is very harmful in hospitals particularly.

The University of the West of England (UWE)’s Norman Ratcliffe and the University of Bristol’s Professor Chris Probert, who is also a gastroenterologist, have developed an instrument that could help to limit the spread of the bacteria. Probert who has dealt with diarrhea patients for many years has noted that the nurses treating these patients were able to find the type of diarrhea by considering some of the features of their stool and he has stored such information. In a similar vein, Probert’s patients suffering from Colitis and Crone’s disease also could know through the different stool smell that the Colitis and Crone’s attack was imminent.

He commenced his work with the UWE’s Professor of Analytic and Sensor Science, Norman Ratcliffe who was earlier focusing on mouldy wheat, rotting potatoes, and the tainted Parma ham. They developed a prototype gadget with the help of initial funding. The gadget could identify the Clostridium difficile infected stool samples by smelling their odor. Results generated by the gadget were found to be productive.

According to Probert, it takes around eight days to analyze stool samples as per the existing guidelines. He expects that this gadget would provide the results within half an hour of the filling up of a bedpan in a hospital ward, after which the diagnosis and treatment activities can commence. Such a realistic diagnostics is needed as giving more antibiotics to patients will create problems for patients. This ‘Odoreader,’ besides being developed for general purposes, could also be investigated for detecting bugs like the norovirus. Probert estimates that it costs several billions for the human expenses and managing Clostridium difficile along with its effects every year in the European Union alone. He added that the noro virus detector would affect huge savings for the limited healthcare funds.

The April edition of cubed webzine from the British Council has carried a article on this titled ‘The Nose that Diagnoses.”


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