Microfluidic strips can be used for a range of tests including blood typing and anti-microbial resistance. (University of Reading)

A portable power-free test for the rapid detection of bacterial resistance to antibiotics has been developed. The Lab-on-a-Stick is an inexpensive microfluidic strip – comprising of tiny test tubes about the size of a human hair – capable of identifying bacteria found in urine samples and checking if they are resistant to common antibiotics. Simple to use and cheap to manufacture, it is a “dip and read” method using a transparent microcapillary film suitable for naked eye detection, or measurement with portable, inexpensive equipment such as a smartphone camera.

The test is at least 12 times faster than current microbiological tests. It detects antibiotic resistance – in other words, can the cells grow in the presence of the antibiotic, and how much antibiotic is needed to stop cell growth? The microcapillary film enables 10 different concentrations of antibiotic per sample to be tested with a single test strip.