Team:WPI-Worcester -




Future Applications

While CAEV was a good starting point, our project can be applied to virtually any other disease. The only requirements for using this construct as a diagnostic tool are that the disease to be diagnosed is caused by a pathogen, the pathogen produces a known antigen, and the host organism produces antibodies to the antigen. Once the target disease is chosen, the sequence for the antigen can easily be placed into the construct in CAEV’s place to create E. coli that produce the antigen of interest on the surface of the membrane. This can be used to diagnose the disease in the same agglutination test designed for the original project by combining the bacteria with plasma from the host organism in a 96-well plate and letting it sit overnight. Currently, our team has identified two diseases that could benefit greatly from our diagnostic tool: Ebola, and dengue fever.

Ebola is difficult to diagnose because it can take an infected individual up to 21 days to start displaying symptoms[1], and once shown, initial symptoms are ubiquitous, resembling the flu[2]. Being able to diagnose Ebola early and accurately would allow doctors to isolate the individual and provide therapeutic treatments sooner, both decreasing the likeliness of the virus spreading and increasing the chances that someone infected will survive.

The symptoms of dengue fever also resemble those of other illnesses, and it is easily confused with malaria and typhoid fever[3]. There is no known cure for dengue fever, and the only effective treatment currently known is fluid replacement therapy, which only works if the disease is detected very early[4]. While it is possible to diagnose dengue fever, the test results often come back when it is already too late to help the patient[3]. Our diagnostic tool could fix this problem, as the only things required would be the E. coli expressing dengue fever antigens and a blood sample from a potentially infected individual, allowing a diagnostic result to be determined overnight.