Detection of strep throat causing bacterium directly from medical swabs by touch spray-mass spectrometry†
Strep throat causing Streptococcus pyogenes was detected in vitro and in simulated clinical samples by performing touch spray ionization-mass spectrometry. MS analysis took only seconds to reveal characteristic bacterial and human lipids. Medical swabs were used as the substrate for ambient ionization. This work constitutes the initial step in developing a non-invasive MS-based test for clinical diagnosis of strep throat. It is limited to the single species, S. pyogenes, which is responsible for the vast majority of cases. The method is complementary to and, with further testing, a potential alternative to current methods of point-of-care detection of S. pyogenes.