Digital dipstick: miniaturized bacteria detection and digital quantification for the point-of-care†
Established digital bioassay formats, digital PCR and digital ELISA, show extreme limits of detection, absolute quantification and high multiplexing capabilities. However, they often require complex instrumentation, and extensive off-chip sample preparation. In this study, we present a dipstick-format digital biosensor (digital dipstick) that detects bacteria directly from the sample liquid with a minimal number of steps: dip, culture, and count. We demonstrate the quantitative detection of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in urine in the clinically relevant range of 102–105 CFU ml−1 for urinary tract infections. Our format shows 89% sensitivity to detect E. coli in clinical urine samples (n = 28) when it is compared to plate culturing (gold standard). The significance and uniqueness of this diagnostic test format is that it allows a non-trained operator to detect urinary tract infections in the clinically relevant range in the home setting.