(June 11, 2018) -- A new study by Waldemar Gorski, professor and chair of the UTSA Department of Chemistry, and Stanton McHardy, associate professor of research in chemistry and director of the UTSA Center for Innovative Drug Discovery, describes a method that could show quickly and accurately whether a person has been infected with harmful bacteria or other pathogens. Additionally, this new method shows the exact severity of infection in a person.
The most common method of testing for infection in medical facilities is a strip that turns a certain color when infected fluids come into contact with it.
“The problem with this method is that it’s imprecise,” Gorski said. “The human eye is forced to judge the level of infection based on the hue and deepness of a color. It’s difficult to make an accurate call based on that.” Furthermore, roughly a third of samples cannot be tested because the fluids contain blood or are too opaque.
Other methods include microbiology or examining body fluid samples under a microscope and counting white blood cells, also known as leukocytes, which are an indicator of an infection. However, these can be slow processes and require more highly trained personnel.
Gorski, seeing a need for an easier and more rapid method of testing for infection, resolved to test an electrochemical approach, and sought out McHardy, a medicinal chemist. Together, they created molecules that bind to leukocyte enzymes and produce an electrical current to signal the presence of an infection.
Their new molecules are housed on a testing strip. After being contacted with infected bodily fluids, the strip is connected to a computer monitor that displays a clear range of electrochemical responses demonstrating the severity of an infection.
“The signs and symptoms people demonstrate aren’t always reflective of the level of the infection they have,” McHardy said. “This method could very easily show just how serious an infection is and make diagnosis a much quicker process, possibly preventing a more serious illness.”
Gorski believes the method could be especially useful to people who have just undergone surgery, as it could determine definitively whether they have an infection from the procedure before it worsens.
To date, Gorski and McHardy have filed a patent for their invention, published two papers and plan to work with an engineer in the future to streamline its design.
Read Waldemar Gorski and Stanton McHardy’s study, “Synthesis and Characterization of Pyridine Compounds for Amperometric Measurements of Leukocyte Esterase.”
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Chemistry.
Learn more about the UTSA Center for Innovative Drug Discovery.
Throughout the summer, UTSA offers more than 60 camps in science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing, language, culture and more.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Experience a fun, interactive week at UTSA as new students and their families take the first steps to becoming a Roadrunner.Various locations, Main Campus and Downtown Campuses
Finance and Budget Modeling Task Force presents a panel presentation of experts from 4 universities with experience in incentive-based budgeting. All UTSA campus community is invited to attend and be informed about budgeting processes.Business Building Richard Liu Auditorium (BB 2.01.02), Main Campus
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This exhibit highlights the UTSA Special Collections, which includes historic photographs from Texas, San Antonio and UTSA history.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Come learn about the benefits available before the enrollment period July 15-31.Business Building University Room (BB 2.06.04), Main Campus
Come learn about the benefits available before the enrollment period July 15-31.Durango Building River Walk Room (DB 1.124), Downtown Campus
The UTSA Art Collection and UT Health San Antonio present art exhibit opening reception for show featuring works from the private collection of Retired Air Force Master Sargent Cody Vance. Focus is the nexus of art and science.South Texas Research Facility lobby, 8403 Floyd Curl Dr., San Antonio