Patients suffering from superbugs including MRSA could be treated faster after a breakthrough by Glasgow researchers.

Scientists at the University of Strathclyde were able to cut the time taken to show resistance to antibiotics from “up to two days” to “less than 45 minutes”.

Doctors said the test developed could have major implications for doctors working in intensive care units and operating theatres, allowing them to “give the right drug at the right time.”

To prove it could prescribe the correct antibiotic to a patient for an infection more quickly, the scientists examined the difference in growth profiles between staphylococcus aureus and MRSA.

While the former is a common hospital-acquired bacterial infection sensitive to antibiotics, MRSA can be harder to treat.

Both strains were placed on to electrodes covered in a special hydrogel deposit and the susceptible strain could not grow when the sensor was seeded with antibiotic.

The paper’s lead author, Dr Stuart Hannah, said: “Rapid result detection means you could pinpoint bacterial versus viral infections straight away and would be able to start working on the correct treatment more quickly for patients, which is very important for particular infections. Antibiotic resistance is less likely to develop if you give a narrower spectrum antibiotic.”

The consultant anaesthetist on the project, Dr David Alcorn from the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, said: “Being able to quickly diagnose an infection is a great enough ability but to be able to also detect AMR (antimicrobial resistance) within such a short period of time could prove to be a wonderful tool.

“It means that vital diagnostic information could be provided for clinicians across intensive care units, operating theatres, and emergency departments, to enable them to give the right drug at the right time.

“There is also scope for this to have an enormous impact within general practice and day-to-day healthcare.”