Label-Free Optical Detection of Pathogenic Bacteria and Fungi at Extremely Low Cell Densities for Rapid Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing

Michael Farid, Marinelle Rodrigues, Robert England, Erdal Toprak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Antibiotic resistance is a rapidly expanding public health problem across the globe leading to prolonged hospital admissions, increased morbidity and mortality, and associated high healthcare costs. Effective treatment of bacterial infections requires timely and correct antibiotic administration to the patients which relies on rapid phenotyping of disease-causing bacteria. Currently, antibiotic susceptibility tests can take several days and as a result, indiscriminate antibiotic use has exacerbated the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance in clinical and community settings. In order to address this problem, we have developed a novel optical apparatus that we called RUSD (Rapid Ultra-Sensitive Detection). RUSD is built around a hollow silica fiber and utilizes bacterial cells as spatial light modulators. This generates a highly sensitive modulation transfer function due to the narrow reflectivity angle in the fiber-media interface. We leveraged the RUSD technology to allow for robust bacterial and fungal detection. RUSD can now detect pathogenic cell densities in a large dynamic window (OD600 from ∼10−7 to 10−1). Finally, we can generate dose response curves for various pathogens and antimicrobial compounds within one to three hours by using RUSD. Our antibiotic- susceptibility testing (AST) assay that we call iFAST (in-Fiber-Antibiotic-Susceptibility-Testing) is fast, highly sensitive, and does not change the existing workflow in clinical settings as it is compatible with FDA-approved AST. Thus, RUSD platform is a viable tool that will expedite decision-making process in the treatment of infectious diseases and positively impact the antibiotic resistance problem in the long term by minimizing the use of ineffective antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number884200
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - Jun 30 2022


  • AST (antibiotic susceptibility testing)
  • biomedical application
  • clinical microbial infection
  • optical fiber
  • rapid assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


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