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Cellock Holmes - A Case of Identity

"What is living in on the table in front of you?" seems to be an easy question to answer: microoganisms. However, which microorganisms are living on the table in front of you is not such a trivial question anymore, especially in environments where you only want to have a non-pathogenic microflora, or no microorganisms at all, such as lab spaces or health care institutions.

Our project Cellock Holmes tries to solve this case of identy.

Cellock Holmes encompasses our 2D biosensing technology with which we want to enable detection of bacteria on solid surfaces. When developing Cellock Holmes, a main goal was to overcome shortcomings of excisting detection methods such as high cost, heavy and sensitive equipment, complicated handling and long detection times. Instead of inventing a mainly fancy concept for detecting bacteria, we wanted to create a biosensor that is

  • fast
  • inexpensive
  • open source
  • mobile
  • easy to handle

As a proof-of-concept for Cellock Holmes we decided to detect the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This opportunistic bacterium mainly infects patients with open wounds and burns as well as immuneodeficient people. P. aeruginosa cells use quorum sensing to communicate with each other, and in doing so secrete autoinducers into their environment. Using Synthetic Biology, our team engineered sensor cells, so-called Cellocks, that are able to detect said autoinducers and to elicit a fluorescence signal. And through the use of our REACh construct, the response time of our sensor cells is sped up.

So far Cellocks are able to detect P. aeruginosa only, however, due to the modular composition of our genetic device, it is possible to engineer Cellocks in a way that they are able to detect other bacteria's autoinducers. Even more flexibility would be introduced using our alternative molecular approach using Galectin-3.

Hand in hand with the biological side of our project, our IT crew built the measurement device WatsOn that is able to read and analyze the fluorescent signal.

The OD/F Device - A Project Spin-Off