30 January 2020

Diagnosis and treatment

Patches that recognize resistant bacteria have been created


Researchers have developed a material that changes color from green to red when it comes into contact with the microenvironment of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This was reported by scientists in the journal ACS Central Science (Sun et al., Colorimetric Band-aids for Point-of-Care Sensing and Treating Bacterial Infection).


The patch changes color from green to yellow in the presence of increasing concentrations of drug-sensitive bacteria (DS) and from green to red in the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (DR). Drawings from an article in ACS Central Science – VM.

According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health. Therefore, it is important to detect and treat bacterial infections as early as possible, using a minimum of new antibiotics. This will help improve the recovery of patients, as well as curb the spread of antibiotic-resistant microbes.

Now researchers at the Institute of Applied Chemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed patches that change color and can recognize drug-resistant and drug-sensitive bacteria in wounds so that scientists can treat them appropriately.

The authors of the study created a material that changes color from green to yellow when it comes into contact with the acid microenvironment of bacteria. In addition, the new dressing is able to secrete an antibiotic that kills drug-sensitive bacteria if they are found in the wound.

If the tissue on which the patch is applied contains drug-resistant bacteria, it turns red under the action of an enzyme produced by resistant microbes. When this happens, researchers can irradiate it, causing the material to release reactive oxygen species that kill or weaken bacteria, making them more susceptible to antibiotics.


The team showed that the dressing could speed up wound healing in mice that were infected with drug-sensitive or drug-resistant bacteria. The detection limit of the new patch is 104 CFU/ml. This is quite a high figure, but scientists are striving to improve their technology in order to find pathogenic organisms in a lower concentration more quickly. Today, this process takes about four hours.

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