Project Lead(s): G. Andrew Woolley
Proper blood screening in rural areas remains a major problem in developing nations, with many diseases going undiagnosed.
Low-income areas see 47% of blood donations tested without quality assurance, with poor resource accessibility and lack of training cited as major barriers.
The objective of this project was to produce a ready-to-use, yeast-based blood screening tool, for simultaneously detecting combinations of diseases.
Like baking yeast, the product can be stored dry and grown locally with minimal equipment/training, thereby improving accessibility in rural areas.
The project team developed a prototype cell-based assay system, by creating the cells and tuning their behaviour into a range where they could operate as desired.
They then demonstrated the system’s effectiveness in disease detection using control samples from a commercially available Chagas disease assay kit.
The team was successful in creating a prototype consisting of sets of yeast cells engineered to generate a simple visual signal when mixed with blood samples.
The process is rapid (about 30 minutes) and can be conducted entirely without the need for advanced technology, involving only yeast cells, the sample and a simple container.
Tests using control samples for Chagas disease obtained from an ELISA kit were able to clearly identify infected and non-infected samples.
A provisional patent was filed by the project team in November 2015. The knowledge will be disseminated through publishing a manuscript on the results.
There is a plan to apply for Phase II Transition To Scale funding to fully develop the product, develop and optimize relevant technologies, and assess a possible introduction to market.