InSilixa, a biotech company based in Sunnyvale, California, has recently developed a portable device that can identify microbes present in your body in a matter of hours. The system utilizes a high-performance biosensor created with the company’s innovative complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processes, and can identify various genetic components, protein fragments, and metabolites from pathogens to diagnose diseases. This device can rapidly identify resistant bacteria and allow doctors to immediately prescribe proper medication, reducing overuse of antibiotics and development of drug resistance. Being that the number of drug-resistant bacteria is growing, InSilixa’s product is a potential solution to this crisis.
The current system in place for physicians to identify microbes by genetic material often involves a culturing process that can take up to weeks, creating either a delay in infection treatment or causing the physician to make an educated guess on how to treat the patient. With InSilixa’s new biochip, physicians would be able to scan a patient for microbes in under 2 hours, with no culturing required. A patient sample, such as blood or a cheek swab, is simply loaded onto a reader which then conducts 5 processes to isolate and compare genetic material to that of known pathogens.
In their study published in Nature Biotechnology, the researchers claimed that their technology can identify specific mutations for antibiotic resistance in 7 different species of microbes in one run. The developers believe they will eventually be able to identify up to 100 microbes at one time. They also detected 54 mutations associated with drug resistance in 6 genes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The team also intends to create an open platform that allows physicians to create chips customized to scan for microbes specific to their geographic area.