New device will drastically improve diagnosis and treatment of common infections. Doctors prescribe antibiotics based on an educated guess about which bugs are causing the symptoms they see. Sometimes they guess wrong and it can take days or even weeks for tests to identify the true culprits. In the meantime, people are taking ineffective drugs, contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.
A solution could come in the shape of a machine capable of identifying all bacteria, viruses and fungi known to cause infectious disease in humans. Tests of the PLEX-ID universal biosensor suggest it is more accurate than the standard method, which involves growing the offending pathogen in a dish and then identifying it by its shape and characteristics.