There was a study conducted as an interdisciplinary collaboration between microbiologists, immunologists, and engineers led by Dr. Simon Corrie from Monash University’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Professor Ana Traven from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI). In this, researchers used nanoparticles to identify the presence of fatal microbes present on medical devices, like catheters.

Candida albicans, a commonly found microbe in healthy people can become a serious problem for those who are seriously ill or immune-suppressed and also turn deadly when it colonizes on devices such as catheters implanted in the human body. When it colonizes, it’s highly resistant to antifungal treatments and also leads to infection in the organ system

Professor Traven informed through her research,” The idea is that if you can diagnose this infection early, then you can have a much bigger chance of treating it successfully with current antifungal drugs and stopping a full-blown systemic infection, but our current diagnostic methods are lacking. A biosensor to detect early stages of colonization of microbes would be highly beneficial” 

The researchers investigated the effects of organosilica nanoparticles of different sizes, concentrations and surface coatings to see whether and how they interacted with both C. Albicans and with immune cells in the blood. They found that the nanoparticles bound to fungal cells, but were non-toxic to them. “We’ve identified that these nanoparticles, and by inference a number of different types of nanoparticles, can be made to be interactive with cells of interest,” Dr. Corrie said.

“We can actually change the surface properties by attaching different things; thereby we can really change the interactions they have with these cells — that’s quite significant,” added Dr. Corrie