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Students create low-cost biosensor to detect contaminated water in developing nations
Date:9/6/2012

gn tests the membranes of bacteria. When using the device to test water, if certain proteins attach to a bacterial membrane, the sample will turn blue indicating the water is contaminated with a pathogen and would not be safe to drink.

"The advantage of this design over previous designs in the field lies in the cheap production of probes and the enzymatic chain reaction," said Abhinav Markus, a biomedical engineering student in Ira A Fulton Schools of Engineering. "Samples can be tested in the field with minimal cost and high sensitivity."

When the ASU iGEM team first met this summer, Madeline Sands, an anthropology major in the university's School of Human Evolution and Social Change, pitched the idea to build a low-cost biosensor. Sands previously traveled to Guatemala as part of an ASU field experience. There, she conducted community health research under the direction of Jonathan Maupin, a medical anthropologist. Sands realized that contaminated water presents a serious health problem for developing countries.

"With constant earthquakes, landslides and rains in Guatemala, it can often be difficult to determine if a water source is contaminated," said Sands. "My time there made it clear that having a way to detect contaminated water could lead to a further reduction in the incidence and morbidity of diarrhea."

In October, the team will present its device during the iGEM regional competition at Stanford University. If successful, they will move on to the global competition in November at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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Contact: Sandra Leander
sandra.leander@asu.edu
480-965-9865
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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