1. ITV Report

How tiny test tubes could be the key to antibiotic resistance research

Academics at Loughborough University have developed a portable power-free test for the rapid detection of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

The new test involves an inexpensive strip containing tiny test tubes. Credit: University of Reading

The new test called 'Lab-on-a Stick' has been developed in partnership with the University of Reading.

It involves an inexpensive strip - comprising of tiny test tubes about the size of a human hair - which are capable of identifying bacteria found in urine samples and checking if they are resistant to common antibiotics.

What we have done is to develop a low cost way of making thousands of miniature test tubes, so that we can use them for many important applications. Lab-on-a-Stick shows yet again how versatile these microscopic test tubes are.

– Dr Edwards, co-author of the study
The simple test is capable of identifying bacteria found in urine samples. Credit: PA Images

Those involved in the study say it's simple to use and cheap to manufacture.

It uses a 'dip and read' method using a transparent film suitable for naked eye detection or measurement using a smartphone camera.

The say it could be a major step towards miniaturising complex, routine microbiological and clinical tests that at the moment cannot be performed outside of the lab.

As part of the study, different tests were carried out using the stick to demonstrate the full potential of it for a range of clinical situations.

Our secret is simplicity. We have shown how microengineered film material made from a very transparent plastic with special optical properties, makes it easy to perform laboratory tests without lab equipment.

– Dr Nuno Reis, Loughborough University