Project Lead(s): Vitali Borisenko
Cryptosporidium is a waterborne pathogen that causes severe diarrhea that can be fatal for children and immuno-compromised individuals. Existing cryptosporidium detection methods are highly time-consuming and expensive, and often involve cell culturing.
Currently, there is no testing and monitoring performed on a routine basis for cryptosporidium in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and no simple testing tool exists.
The project team sought to develop and validate a Cryptosporidium biosensor system capable of quantifying a low occurrence of the microorganism.
The innovative approach requires the design and optimization of the sample-concentrating chamber, to allow for the collection of all the microbes from the examined water sample and the development of a new detection element able to recognize the cryptosporidium microorganism from among a variety of other microbes.
These two components will be integrated into a completed system using a proprietary element, allowing for fast translation of trapped parasites into a readable output signal.
To date, the activities conducted include:
· The design and manufacture of the concentrating chamber
· The testing of the concentrating chamber using a high concentration of a non-harmful strain of E. coli
· The redesign and manufacture of the concentrating chamber suitable for concentrating 10+ litres of water
· The testing of the optical detector using a fluorescently labelled antibody for low concentrations of E. coli
· The design and manufacture of a miniature chip for bacteria monitoring, using diffraction optics incorporated into a microfluidic compartment.
The double-step concentrating chamber and the combined microfluidic cell-sorting system used for the pathogen pre-screening are key results necessary for the proof of concept that microorganisms of low natural occurrences in water sources can be detected within hours, rather than the days required for cell culturing.
The project team also conducted a series of awareness sessions on waterborne diarrheal diseases in the Philippines that provided information on the importance of detecting diarrhea-causing microbes in local water sources used for drinking. These discussions were held with doctors, local authorities on health, teachers and students, who were advised against consuming contaminated water and educated about the importance of intense boiling to kill microbes.
The team demonstrated that E. coli in a 200mL water sample can be concentrated down to 1mL, and detected and identified using a fluorescently labelled antibody. However, experiments revealed that filtering capacity for the concentrating chamber is not sufficient for water volumes exceeding 1L.
The project team strongly believes that the relevant level of microbes can be detected within a couple of hours using this technology.
Upon completion of the prototype device, field validation will be performed in Toronto and in the Philippines at Puerto Princesa Water District.
The team will complete the integration of the components into a single-unit platform and focus on the commercialization of the device.
The team intends to apply for Transition To Scale (TTS) funding once the validation is complete.