Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Quick test finds signs of diarrheal disease

07.02.2014
Rice, UTMB develop diagnostic test for cryptosporidiosis

Bioengineers at Rice University and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston have developed a simple, highly sensitive and efficient test for the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis that could have great impact on global health.

Results from the diagnostic developed by the lab of Rice bioengineer Rebecca Richards-Kortum are read from a paper strip that resembles a pregnancy test. Lines on the strip tell whether samples taken from the stool of a patient contain genetic DNA from the parasite that causes the disease.

The research is detailed online in a new paper in the American Chemical Society journal Analytical Chemistry.

“Diarrheal illness is a leading cause of global mortality and morbidity,” said Richards-Kortum, director of the Rice 360˚: Institute for Global Health Technologies. “Parasites such as cryptosporidium are more common causes of prolonged diarrhea. Current laboratory tests are not sensitive, are time-consuming and require days before results are available. A rapid, affordable, accurate point-of-care test could greatly enhance care for the underserved populations who are most affected by parasites that cause diarrheal illness.”

A. Clinton White, director of the Infectious Disease Division at UTMB, asked Richards-Kortum to help develop a diagnostic test for the parasite. “I’ve been working with cryptosporidium for more than 20 years, so I wanted to combine her expertise in diagnosis with our clinical interest,” he said. “Recent studies in Africa and South Asia by people using sophisticated techniques show this organism is a very common, underappreciated cause of diarrheal disease in underresourced countries.”

The parasite is common in the United States, he said, but less than 5 percent of an estimated 750,000 cases are diagnosed every year. In 1993, an outbreak of cryptosporidium in the water supply sickened 400,000 people in Greater Milwaukee, he said.

Lead author Zachary Crannell, a graduate student based at Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative, said the disease, usually transmitted through drinking water, accounts for 20 percent of childhood diarrheal deaths in developing countries. Cryptosporidiosis is also a threat to people with HIV whose immune system is less able to fight it off, he said.

“In the most recent global burden-of-disease study, diarrheal disease accounts for the loss of more disability-adjusted life years than any other infectious disease, and cryptosporidiosis is the second leading cause of diarrheal illness.” Crannell said. “Anybody, if it’s not treated, can get dehydrated to the point of death.

“There’s a lot of new evidence that even with asymptomatic cases or cases for which the symptoms have been resolved, there are long-term growth deficits,” he said.

Current specialized tests that depend on microscopic or fluorescent analysis of stool samples or polymerase chain reactions (PCR) that amplify pathogen DNA are considered impractical for deployment in developing countries because of the need for expensive equipment and/or the electricity to operate it.

The Rice test depends on recent developments in a recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) technique that gives similar “gold standard” results to PCR but operates between room and body temperatures. In Rice’s experiments, samples were prepared with a commercial chemical kit that releases all the DNA and RNA in the small amount of stool tested. The purified nucleic acids are then combined with RPA primers and enzymes tuned to amplify the pathogen of interest, Crannell said.

“If the pathogen DNA is present, these primers will amplify it billions of times to a level that we can easily detect,” he said. The sample is then flowed over the detection strip, which provides a positive or negative result.

The RPA enzymes are stable in their dried form and can be safely stored at the point of care without refrigeration for up to a year, he said.

While current tests might catch the disease in samples with thousands of the pathogens, the Rice technique detects the presence of very few – even one – parasite in a sample. In their experiments, the researchers reported the presence or absence of the disease was correctly identified in 27 of 28 infected and control-group mice and all 21 humans whose stool was tested.

Crannell said the method requires little equipment, because the enzymes that amplify DNA work best at or near body temperature. “You don’t need a thermal cycler (used for PCR analysis); you don’t need external heating equipment. You can hold the sample under your armpit, or put it in your pocket,” he said.

The research team’s goal is to produce a low-cost diagnostic that may also test for the presence of several other parasites, including giardia, the cause of another intestinal disease. The researchers are working to package the components for use in low-resource settings, Crannell said.

Co-authors are Rice graduate student Brittany Rohrman, and research scientist Alejandro Castellanos-Gonzalez and lab technician Ayesha Irani of UTMB. White is a professor and chief of the Department of Internal Medicine at UTMB. Richards-Kortum is Rice’s Stanley C. Moore Professor and chair of the Department of Bioengineering and director of Beyond Traditional Borders as well as Rice 360˚.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program supported the research.

Read the abstract at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ac403750z

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/AboutRiceU.

ABOUT UTMB HEALTH: Established in 1891, Texas’ first academic health center comprises four health sciences schools, three institutes for advanced study, a research enterprise that includes one of only two national laboratories dedicated to the safe study of infectious threats to human health, and a health system offering a full range of primary and specialized medical services throughout Galveston County and the Texas Gulf Coast region. UTMB Health is a component of the University of Texas System and the Texas Medical Center.

David Ruth | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rice.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)

nachricht CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>