Genetically engineered bacteriophage for diagnosis of whooping cough

Whooping cough, the infectious respiratory disease caused by Bordetella pertussis, is diagnosed in tens of millions of people and results in almost 300,000 deaths globally each year. Low-income and unvaccinated individuals as well as infants are especially susceptible. Current diagnostic procedures are complicated, costly, and can take up to a week, by which time the disease may have progressed or spread. The enormous impact of this disease urgently motivates the development of a faster, cheaper, and more reliable diagnostic test. Our epidemiology models suggest that earlier diagnosis could drastically reduce the incidence and impact of the disease. We propose an engineered bacteriophage diagnostic system for rapid clinical detection of pertussis. We first engineered T7 bacteriophage to demonstrate this approach in E. coli. Our modular diagnostic approach can be applied to the high-sensitivity detection of other bacteria.