Developing Sensors for Infectious Diseases

Electrochemical Platforms for Rapid Bacterial Detection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are two of the most common types of infection and are especially prone to antibiotic resistance. Nearly 90% of UTIs and STIs are thought to be resistant, and unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed in half of such diseases, which can cause new resistances to emerge. Current diagnostics require clinic visits and multiple days to determine proper treatment, which can be prohibitive for patients. A low cost, point-of-care platform for the identification and resistance determination of bacteria in UTIs and STIs in hours rather than days is urgently needed. We are working to develop a point-of-care electrochemical diagnostic platform to rapidly identify and quantify infectious bacteria in patient samples and report combinations of resistances. This platform will provide clinicians with an unprecedented amount of information about an infection and will lay the groundwork for transformative technologies to track resistant infections and drastically improve human health.

Viral Detection using Isothermal DNA Amplification and CRISPR Recognition

Sexually transmitted infections, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the human papillomavirus (HPV), disproportionally impact those in low-resource settings. Early diagnosis is essential for managing HIV. Similarly, HPV causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer, the majority (90%) of which occur in low-resource settings. Importantly, infection with HPV is six times more likely to progress to cervical cancer in women who are HIV-positive. An inexpensive, adaptable point-of-care test for viral infections will make screening for these viruses more accessible to a broader set of the population. We are developing inexpensive platforms to detect clinically relevant viral loads based on loop-mediated isothermal amplification and CRISPR-based recognition. This adaptable technology could be applied to detect any viral infection rapidly and cost-effectively.