Rapid determination of antibiotic resistance in E. coli using dielectrophoresis

Kai F. Hoettges, Jeremy W. Dale, Michael P. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In recent years, infections due to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria such as methillicin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and ciprofloxacin-resistant Escherichia coli are on the rise, and with them the demand for rapid antibiotic testing is also rising. Conventional tests, such as disc diffusion testing, require a primary sample to be tested in the presence of a number of antibiotics to verify which antibiotics suppress growth, which take approximately 24 h to complete and potentially place the patient at severe risk. In this paper we describe the use of dielectrophoresis as a rapid marker of cell death, by detecting changes in the electrophysiology of the cell caused by the administration of an antibiotic. In contrast to other markers, the electrophysiology of the cell changes rapidly during cell death allowing live cells to be distinguished from dead (or dying) cells without the need for culturing. Using polymyxin B as an example antibiotic, our studies indicate that significant changes in cell characteristics can be observed as soon as 1 h passes after isolating a culture from nutrient broth.

Original languageBritish English
Article number019
Pages (from-to)6001-6009
Number of pages9
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number19
StatePublished - 21 Sep 2007


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