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CD4 Initiative
As part of an international team of researchers, we have been working on the development of an inexpensive, rapid, and easy to use device for the quantification of CD4+ T Lymphocytes in human blood. The initiative, lead by Imperial College in London, is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Prof. Richard Durst, Dept. of Food Science & Technology and Dept. of Biological & Environmental Engineering
Project: Development of an electrochemical microfluidic biosensor for the detection of botulinum and cholera toxins. The electrochemical microbiosensor is based on ganglioside-modified liposomes and a microfluidic biosensor technology developed earlier by our two research groups. The biosensor will be designed for the highly specific, sensitive, rapid and inexpensive detection of botulinum toxin in food and farm-related samples. It is anticipated that this biosensor will find its use in securing the nation's food supply and livestock against naturally occurring botulism outbreaks and bio- and agroterrorism.
Prof. David Erickson, Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Project: The need to rapidly diagnose emerging viral threats along with the potential for associating individual or multiple point polymorphisms with disease states and pharmacological responses has lead to a recent interest in the development of new high-throughput nucleic acid biosensors. We thus investigate the development of "Nanoscale Optofluidic Sensor Arrays" for unlabeled biosensing. The technique relies on shrinking the fluidic system down to the same scale as the wavelength of light and using the properties of a unique silicon nanophotonic structure to gain access to the evanescent field and to provide spatial localization of the reaction site.
Prof. Margaret Frey, Dept. of Fiber Science and Apparel Design
Project: To create point of use biohazard detection systems, technologies for transport, purification, concentration, capture and detection of analytes will be combined. Sensor assemblies will be formed by including molecular sensors into electrospun non-woven fabrics and fabric structure and properties will be optimized to maximize transport of analytes from liquids or moistened solid surfaces to sensing sites. Biorecognition elements incorporated into wipes or swabs will create a disposable and easy to handle method for sensing contaminants on food or medical surfaces by simply wiping the surface with the sensor assembly.
Prof. Brian Kirby, Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Project: Development and evaluation of pathogen concentrators and microbiosensors for on-site environmental sampling. Monitoring the safety of surface water, recreational water, and run-off waters is critical to protect our society from naturally occurring pathogens, as well as unintentional and intentional contaminations. The ability to process large volumes is especially important in environmental analysis, to obtain a sample size that is representative of the water body and to detect pathogens present at very low concentrations (1 pathogen per liter). Our approach involves commercial filtration at the liter level, followed by a series of novel microscale concentration steps that take the sample from mL to nL levels for then highly specific and rapid detection and identification of the pathogen present.
Prof. Ruth Richardson, Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Project: Modeling gene networks in Dehalococcoides and development of practical RNA-biosensors for dehalorespiration of chlorinated contaminants Chlorinated ethenes are potent human toxicants that are extremely persistent and mobile in aqueous subsurface environments. Thousands of sites, domestic and international, suffer from contamination by perchloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) used predominantly as dry-cleaning and degreasing solvents, respectively. Anaerobic bacteria that catalyze reductive dehalogenation can mitigate risk associated with these pollutants through reactions that produce safe end products. In more recent years, Dehalococcoides (DHC) strains have been discovered which can grow via dehalorespiration of the less-chlorinated ethenes cis-dichloroethene (cisDCE) and vinyl chloride (VC). The employment of molecular biological techniques for tracking DHC holds promise for informing in situ PCE/TCE bioremediation. Our research will rigorously link DHC gene expression to the phenotype of interest, dehalorespiration, under a wide range of plausible conditions and provide molecular tools for the practical monitoring of these expression profiles.