Scientists have created a new camera to help treat bacterial infections.

A number of studies and research projects have recently emerged about cameras and their use in wound care treatment. For instance, a 2014 study found that photographic documentation might help people with hard-to-see wounds. People who couldn’t see their wounds were less likely to care for them regularly. Then, in late 2015, another team of Italian scientists developed a special camera to aid with early wound diagnosis. The camera uses infrared light to detect a wound’s temperature, which is helpful in tracking wound healing and watching out for infections.

Now, according to a press release, English researchers have created a new camera device that specifically detects bacteria.

A bright, shining light

The camera, called Moleculight i:X, is already being used in English and Canadian clinical hospital trials. Moleculight was designed to give doctors a tool for early intervention, as most infections aren’t noticed until redness, swelling or other physical symptoms occur. While doctors have tried to rely on swabbing wounds to test for infection, this only provides a small, often inaccurate sample. To detect wound infections, the Moleculight camera makes use of a blue light, which reacts with certain chemicals in the bacteria.

However, blue light has other effects as well. Infection Control Today explained that this special wavelength can help tissue repair itself much faster. That’s because blue light works on an enzyme in the mitochondria, which has been described as the “powerhouse of a cell,” causing this unique organism to work much more efficiently. It’s worth noting that while similar technologies have been explored, some of these devices would pick up only normal bacterial strains. Moleculight, meanwhile, is designed to seek out”clinically significant” strains of bacteria.

Moleculight has already saved at least one patient, per an International Wound Journal review. The patient had been released from the hospital and then underwent monitoring via Moleculight. With the camera, his doctors found an infection under the skin that had been missed. He was then re-admitted to the hospital and treated for the infection before it spread.

Ryan Kerstein, a specialist plastic surgery registrar, told the Daily Mail that if Moleculight could help with more early diagnoses that might result in more successful treatment outcomes. Currently, the University of Cardiff is using Moleculight to treat patients with chronic wounds, while University Hospitals Birmingham is employing the camera with non-healing burns. More trials with Moleculight could be implemented in the near future.


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