Paper Test Spots Fake Antibiotics

Antibiotics are some of the most commonly faked medications out there, plus many end up being diluted before reaching patients. Though this is unusual in richer countries, it is a serious problem in less well off places. To help address this issue, researchers at Colorado State University have created a paper-based test that can quickly and easily tell whether a given antibiotic is really what it says it is, as well as whether it’s been diluted or modified with fillers.

“In this country, we take for granted that our antibiotics are good – we don’t even think twice,” said Kat Boehle, PhD, one of the developers of the new device. “But counterfeit and substandard antibiotics are an extremely common thing in other parts of the world. The goal of this project has been to make a cheap detection device that is easy to use; our device costs literally a quarter to make.”

The test uses an enzyme naturally created by bacteria, called beta-lactamase, that bacteria normally use to develop a resistance to antibiotics. The antibiotic to be tested is added to a solution containing the enzyme and the mixture is introduced to nitrocefin, that also binds to the same enzyme and changes color when it does that. Since the antibiotic and the nitrocefin are competing to bind with the enzyme, any drastic color change indicates there’s not much antibiotic that has bound to the enzyme.

The test takes just minutes to perform and it can be done by just about anyone with minimal training. If the technology proves itself in the real world, it may significantly put a dent into the continuing problem of fake meds being distributed to unsuspecting patients and healthcare providers.

Via: Colorado State…

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