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Lighting Up Infections To Heal Wounded Veterans

Lighting Up Infections To Heal Wounded Veterans

Improving how combat wounds are treated.

Lighting Up Infections To Heal Wounded Veterans

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 20:30

Marsha Lewis, Contributing Producer

(Inside Science TV) -- Between gunfire, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades there are all kinds of ways for soldier to be wounded in the line of duty. When they are hurt, their injuries are often unique.

"Because of the severity of these wounds, one of the really big problems is infection and being able to detect infection properly," said Nicholas Be, a biomedical scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Lab in Livermore, California.

Identifying bacterial infections isn't easy and current technology can sometimes make mistakes.

Now, microbiologists have developed a new DNA detecting system that can spot more than seven thousand different bacterial pathogens in a sample in just 24 hours.

"It provides sort of a new lens essentially on biological samples," said Jonathan Allen, an information scientist at LLNL.

First, scientists extract DNA from the wound. Then, a fluorescent dye is added and dangerous bacteria or viruses light up under a special scanner.

Researchers found the new DNA system detected at least one infectious pathogen in about one-third of wound samples that the standard method missed.

"This is really a powerful technology because you don't have to necessarily know anything about a given sample before you test it," Be said.

Right now, the DNA pathogen detection system is being used in a laboratory environment, but the scientists hope to create a version that can be used in the combat field in the future.

Get Inside The Science:

LLNL Technology Detects Bacterial Pathogens In Soldiers' Combat Wounds

Nicholas Be, Lawrence Livermore National Lab

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Marsha Lewis is a freelance producer based in California.  She has won 11 National Telly Awards and nine Regional Emmy Awards for her work in local and national syndicated news.

I’ve dedicated my time to reporting and producing stories focused on medical, science and technology. I created a nationally award winning series dedicated to promoting women and their great accomplishments.  Now I’ve taken that expertise outside the traditional TV news format and broadened the viewership to people around the world.