Team:Arizona State/Problem

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Viewed as a minor inconvenience in the developed world, diarrhea can be a death sentence in developing countries. Diarrhea can be life threatening as it causes severe dehydration as a result of extensive fluid loss. An estimated 2.0 billion cases of diarrhea occur each year amongst children under five years of age. Of these cases, 1.5 million children die.  The major pathogens that most frequently cause acute childhood diarrhea cases are bacterial pathogens such as <i>E. coli, Shigella, Campylobacter and Salmonella</i>. The ASU iGEM team plans to develop an inexpensive way for communities to test the purity of water sources- and identify the specific pathogens in the water source- in efforts of reducing the incidence of childhood diarrhea and ultimately decreasing mortality rates. Existing biosensors for water-borne pathogens are either costly, unaccessible to developing countries, require large machinery to operate, difficult to use without training, and not very reliable. For example, immunoassays, which uses antibodies specific for certain antigens on pathogenic diarrhea, have a good turnaround time. However, not all antigens have available antibodies that can be used for detection, and those antibodies that are available can be very costly.  
Viewed as a minor inconvenience in the developed world, diarrhea can be a death sentence in developing countries. Diarrhea can be life threatening as it causes severe dehydration as a result of extensive fluid loss. An estimated 2.0 billion cases of diarrhea occur each year amongst children under five years of age. Of these cases, 1.5 million children die.  The major pathogens that most frequently cause acute childhood diarrhea cases are bacterial pathogens such as <i>E. coli, Shigella, Campylobacter and Salmonella</i>. The ASU iGEM team plans to develop an inexpensive way for communities to test the purity of water sources- and identify the specific pathogens in the water source- in efforts of reducing the incidence of childhood diarrhea and ultimately decreasing mortality rates. Existing biosensors for water-borne pathogens are either costly, unaccessible to developing countries, require large machinery to operate, difficult to use without training, and not very reliable. For example, immunoassays, which uses antibodies specific for certain antigens on pathogenic diarrhea, have a good turnaround time. However, not all antigens have available antibodies that can be used for detection, and those antibodies that are available can be very costly.  
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Revision as of 23:41, 16 October 2012

Detailed Problem Description


What is the problem we want to solve?

Viewed as a minor inconvenience in the developed world, diarrhea can be a death sentence in developing countries. Diarrhea can be life threatening as it causes severe dehydration as a result of extensive fluid loss. An estimated 2.0 billion cases of diarrhea occur each year amongst children under five years of age. Of these cases, 1.5 million children die. The major pathogens that most frequently cause acute childhood diarrhea cases are bacterial pathogens such as E. coli, Shigella, Campylobacter and Salmonella. The ASU iGEM team plans to develop an inexpensive way for communities to test the purity of water sources- and identify the specific pathogens in the water source- in efforts of reducing the incidence of childhood diarrhea and ultimately decreasing mortality rates. Existing biosensors for water-borne pathogens are either costly, unaccessible to developing countries, require large machinery to operate, difficult to use without training, and not very reliable. For example, immunoassays, which uses antibodies specific for certain antigens on pathogenic diarrhea, have a good turnaround time. However, not all antigens have available antibodies that can be used for detection, and those antibodies that are available can be very costly.



Quantitative considerations

What concentration of pathogens causes sickness?

In determining what kinds of scenarios our biosensor would work in, a concentration had to be determined for what would be considered an outbreak. Based on research that was found for our project, patients' stool samples were tested for antibodies. An antibody >1:320 for IgM or >1:160 for IgG was considered positive (Olsen).

What specific design approaches did we take to try to reduce false positives, while making the biosensor effective?

A coliform count is defined as a test of water contamination in which the number of the colonies of coliform-bacteria Escherichia coli (E.coli) per 100 milliliter of water is counted. The result is expressed as “Coliform Microbial Density” and indicates the extent of fecal matter present in it. According to common water quality standards water can have about 200 colonies, and about 1000 in recreational water” (Business Dictionary).


Why are we doing this?

What do we hope to accomplish/want to figure out?

For this project we are hoping to make our biosensor as user friendly and most cost effective product as possible. In the process in making this design we also wanted to address the results from using the biosensor. We wanted our project to give results in real time and be able to determine the phenotype of the potential pathogen.

Who are we doing this for? What do we care about?

This project is primarily based on its applications. We wanted to develop a low-cost biosensor that could be implemented in developing countries. This is because pathogenic bacteria causes diarrhea which is one of the world's leading global health issues. By designing our biosensor it would be a potential solution to this problem.

What is our ultimate goal?

Our ultimate goal for the project is to be able to see our biosensor used in developing nations. Ideally our biosensor would be able to be used as an early detection device in order to prevent future pathogenic outbreaks. This would be a solution to not only maintaining a healthy water supply but also to also improve the overall sanitation of developing nations.