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Staphylococcal infections are a serious medical condition with an estimated half-million people each year that become infected in the US, and of those, 20,000 will die from the infection. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical tools to reduce the severity and mortality of disease. Recently, Dr. David Meyerholz (Associate Professor, Pathology) and a team of scientists from the University of Iowa and Integrated DNA Technologies developed a novel injectable probe to rapidly detect infections of the most virulent Staphylococcal species, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). When the probe interacts with micrococcal nuclease, an enzyme produced by S. aureus, it is cleaved and becomes detectable at the site of the infection with near infrared imaging techniques. This new technology can specifically identify and localize S. aureus infections with rapid results delivered in less than one hour. This work was recently published in the journal Nature Medicine and the UI team members also included Frank Hernandez (lead author), Michael Olson, Luiza Hernandez, Daniel Thedens, Alexander Horswill, & James McNamara II (senior author).
Fig. 1. Skeletal muscle with pyomyositis (arrows, right panel) cause by S. aureus.
Fig. 2. The injectable probe (blue) gets cleaved by micrococcal nuclease (orange) at the site of infection; this allows the light emitting molecule (green circle) to be detected.
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