March 19, 2010
Microbe Detective Seeks Out Germs
Microorganisms are everywhere and most of them are harmless, but they can do a lot of damage in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals or in tissue transplants. With the aid of a new device, germs can be detected in artificial cartilage within a few hours.
We are surrounded by microorganisms. They inhabit our skin, the air we breathe, the surfaces we touch. In most cases this is not a problem, but there are situations in which these constant companions can be dangerous or even life-threatening. They are unwelcome, for example, on medical instruments, in culture fluids or on laboratory-grown tissue transplants such as cartilage. Constant sterility checks are therefore required during the production of artificial cartilage. Conventional testing methods for detecting germs are, however, time-consuming. Specimens have to be taken and then cultivated and reproduced in culture fluid because bacteria and fungi can only be detected in large quantities.
A demonstration Raman spectrometer has already been built and can be seen at the Analytica trade show in Munich from March 23 to 26 (Hall A1, Stand 471). Initial blind tests checked by health agencies are scheduled to take place this year. The research scientists will examine artificially infected cartilage cultures and detect the contaminations. If everything goes well, the testing method will be officially approved.
Image Caption: The Raman spectrometer makes it possible to detect germs, for example in tissue transplants. (Ã© Fraunhofer IPM)
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