Abstract by Wessley Call
Physics and Astronomy
Using modified magnetic particles to separate bacteria from blood for rapid diagnosis of sepsis
According to the CDC, sepsis kills over a quarter million Americans every year. Current medical treatment requires 24 to 48 hours to identify the specific bacteria causing the septic response in a patient, and only after identifying it can doctors administer the correct antibiotics. Our project's goal is to reduce that critical time it takes to identify the bacteria. The technique we use includes attaching chemically modified magnetic particles to bacteria which allows us to quickly isolate bacteria from blood using magnets, thereby speeding up identification. Because our initial experiments have proved the success of our process with large concentrations of bacteria, we are now testing the effectiveness of our process with more realistic concentrations, and, in doing so, have made significant changes to the overall process. These changes include creating a unique colony counting computer program, as well as implementing a vacuum filtration plating technique.