ARS creates new way to isolate bacteria causing plague

May 24, 2009
By staff
Wyndmoor, Pa. -- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have discovered a way to use antibody-coated immunomagnetic beads (IMBs) to detect the bacteria that causes plague.
In preliminary tests with milk samples, the technology has been successful in identifying Yersinia pestis.

The application is being pursued to help protect consumers from possible food-borne risks, ARS reports.

"Because antibodies can be selected that bind to very specific targets, antibody-coated IMBs can be used to specifically remove target pathogens from the other harmless bacteria present in most food." The research effort was lead by ARS microbiologist George Paoli. And it follows efforts to develop a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to differentiate between closely related Yersinia species -- Y. enterocolitica and Y. pseudotuberculosis. Another PCR breakthrough can measure the virulence of Y. pestis, ARS says.