Project Lead(s): Ponnambalam Selvaganapathy
Cell culture is the gold standard in tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis, but takes 4–6 weeks.
This delay in diagnosis may result in further progression of the disease, may lead to infected individuals continuing to spread the disease to others or may result in patient loss to follow-up.
The idea behind the project was to make diagnosis of TB by culture method faster and more automated, enabling quicker diagnosis.
Work was undertaken to develop a technology that compartmentalizes a sample into millions of micro volumes and analyzes them in parallel, reducing the assay time to a few hours.
Using E.coli as a proxy for TB (because M. Tuberculosis requires BSL-3 safety equipment, which the lab did not have), the team focused on design development, fabrication of arrays of nanoliter wells, distribution of mL volume into million nL volumes and characterization of the existing fluorescence technology for oxygen detection in the microscale.
These component technologies were then integrated into a single device, validated and tested with various concentrations of E.coli, spiked in the sample to determine the time for detection, quantification of number of bacteria and measure its viability.
The project validated the different components needed to build a prototype device that would make the culturing of TB easier.
Preliminary results have demonstrated the capability of rapid detection on the samples with and without E. coli present.
The next step is the validation using mycobacteria, which requires the use of BSL-3 safety equipment.
This knowledge was disseminated through several presentations at conferences.
The team will be seeking further funding for validation on mycobacteria and had discussions with the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT), Chennai India, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.