Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - ENVIRO (Low-cost paper-based microfluidic devices for the detection of waterborne pathogens)

The scientific aim of enVIRO is to develop novel low-cost paper-based microfluidic systems for the detection of waterborne pathogens. Norovirus and E. coli will be the exemplar targets as they are the primary agents of global gastrointestinal infections caused by contaminated drinking and bathing water. Three-dimensional microfluidic paper analytical devices (µPADs) will be implemented with isothermal nucleic acid amplification technology (INAAT) for sensitive quantitation of pathogens in environmental samples. This will only be possible by joining the expertise in molecular biology and nanotechnology at the University of Southampton (UoS) with the pioneering excellence in paper-based microfluidics at the group of the inventor of the field, George Whitesides, at Harvard University (HU). The enVIRO project will be primarily a research-driven training programme with a 24-month outgoing period spent at HU, for development of novel prototype 3D INAAT µPADs for environmental samples, and a 12-month re-integration phase at UoS in ERA, for knowledge dissemination and prototype implementation that addresses increasing global and European needs in tackling water contamination and infection issues.

In the 12 months since the beginning of the project, we have developed a μPAD device performing immunoassays in the field. The device can detect proteins in whole blood of bovine origin. The deliverable, due in month 6, originally described a simple μPAD, but this has been updated to a more complex, multiplex device for the in-situ diagnosis of zoonoses. This was resulted to one patent application by the fellow. In addition, a working INAAT assay has been designed and optimized for the same bacterial target (an exemplar pathogen). This completes a deliverable due in month 9.

As per the project deliverables due in month 24, the INAAT assay−developed on the bench−has been adapted for field use and quantitative results on a 3D μPAD with a handheld electrochemical analyser. This deliverable was originally planned for the end of month 24 and only included semi-quantitative detection by eye. The work was novel and has already resulted in a second patent application for the fellow. The final deliverable for the month 24 was evaluation of the prototype by an independent stakeholder. This has been concluded at the facilities of the independent stakeholder. The stakeholder is a named inventor on the patent and co-author on the resulting publications. In addition, at least four manuscripts for high-impact journals are being drafted with the results of all work conducted during these 24 months.

Our results are impactful for field analysis of pathogens in humans and animals using both nucleic acids and proteins. Minimal infrastructure is necessary for the operation of our portable reader is self-powered. The user does not require any specialist knowledge and once the−potentially pathogenic−sample is added to the device, the device is fully sealed. All the components of the device are disposable by simple incineration.

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United Kingdom


Life Sciences
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