Mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis causes approximately 305,000 fetal and neonatal deaths every year and leaves 215,000 infants at increased risk of dying from prematurity, low-birth-weight or congenital disease. An accurate diagnosis of diagnostic-antibodies and a simple treatment during the first weeks of pregnancy could stop all those deaths.
Here, I propose the development of a new technique to be used to measure antibodies directly in whole blood. These will combine the multiplexed (i.e. multiple tests in parallel on one sample), quantitative performance of laboratory-based tests with the portability and low-cost of point-of-care tests. As the first step, I will design, optimize and test nanometer-scale, DNA-based “switches” that undergo a dramatic change in conformation (closed/open) upon recognizing its target antibody. I will use this conformational change to generate a large, easily measurable electronic (electrochemical) signal, which I will then employ in and validate as laboratory-scale, single-test devices using both purified antibodies and authentic human samples. I will then integrate the set of sensors exhibiting good clinical performances into a single, paper-based microfluidic sample handing device (similar to the home pregnancy test) to generate a low-cost platform capable of measuring multiple diagnostic antibodies in a single finger-prick blood sample.
The final and main goal in the DNA-SPADE project is the development of a working prototype diagnostic device, which I will design accordingly to suggestions/inputs from a variety of possible final users (such as nurses and doctors).
Fields of science
- natural scienceschemical scienceselectrochemistry
- natural sciencesbiological sciencesgeneticsDNA
- medical and health scienceshealth sciencesinfectious diseasesRNA virusesHIV
- medical and health sciencesclinical medicineobstetrics
- engineering and technologyelectrical engineering, electronic engineering, information engineeringelectronic engineeringsensors