- Burnett School College of Medicine Faculty News UCF
Two UCF researchers, including a professor at the College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, have developed a novel technique that may give doctors a faster and more sensitive tool to detect pathogens associated with inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease.
The new nanoparticle-based technique also may be used for detection of other microbes that have challenged scientists for centuries because they hide deep in human tissue and are able to reprogram cells to successfully evade the immune system.
The microbes reappear years later and can cause serious health problems such as seen in tuberculosis cases. Current testing methods to find these hidden microbes exist, but require a long time to complete and often delay effective treatment for weeks or even months.
Burnett school researcher Dr. Saleh Naser and UCF Associate Professor J. Manuel Perez have developed a method using nanoparticles coated with DNA markers specific to the elusive pathogens. The technique is effective and more accurate than current methods at picking up even small amounts of a pathogen. More important, it takes hours instead of weeks or months to deliver results, potentially giving doctors a quicker tool to help patients.
“Our new technique has surpassed traditional molecular and microbiological methods,” said Dr. Naser. “Without compromising specificity or sensitivity, the nano-method produced reliable and accurate results within hours compared to months.”
The team created hybridizing magnetic relaxation nanosensors (hMRS) that can fish out and detect minuscule amounts of DNA from pathogens hiding within a patient’s cells. The researchers used Mycobacterium avium spp. paratuberculosis (MAP), a pathogen that has been implicated in the cause of Johne’s disease in cattle and Crohn’s disease in humans, to test out their technique.
“It is all about giving medical professionals easy and reliable tools to better understand the spread of a disease, while helping people get treatment faster,” said Dr. Perez, who works at UCF’s Nanoscience Technology Center. “That’s my goal. And that’s where nanotechnology really has a lot to offer, particularly when the technology has been validated using clinical, food and environmental samples as is in our case.”