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Clin Microbiol Rev. 2014 Jul;27(3):631-46. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00120-13.

Biosensors for whole-cell bacterial detection.

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School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.


Bacterial pathogens are important targets for detection and identification in medicine, food safety, public health, and security. Bacterial infection is a common cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In spite of the availability of antibiotics, these infections are often misdiagnosed or there is an unacceptable delay in diagnosis. Current methods of bacterial detection rely upon laboratory-based techniques such as cell culture, microscopic analysis, and biochemical assays. These procedures are time-consuming and costly and require specialist equipment and trained users. Portable stand-alone biosensors can facilitate rapid detection and diagnosis at the point of care. Biosensors will be particularly useful where a clear diagnosis informs treatment, in critical illness (e.g., meningitis) or to prevent further disease spread (e.g., in case of food-borne pathogens or sexually transmitted diseases). Detection of bacteria is also becoming increasingly important in antibioterrorism measures (e.g., anthrax detection). In this review, we discuss recent progress in the use of biosensors for the detection of whole bacterial cells for sensitive and earlier identification of bacteria without the need for sample processing. There is a particular focus on electrochemical biosensors, especially impedance-based systems, as these present key advantages in terms of ease of miniaturization, lack of reagents, sensitivity, and low cost.

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