Research

Alpha Screen Rapid Pathogen Screener for Bacterial Infections in Food/Water

This supported research project encompassed the research and development of Alpha Screen (αScreen). αScreen is a cost effective, miniaturized, rapid pathogen screener for infectious diseases. The main areas of application for the technology are pathogen detection from contaminated water, food sources and from bloodstream of both animals and humans.

Overview

αScreen can be applied in several areas related to drinking water and water safety monitoring:

  • αScreen may potentially be configured as a low cost sensor network for monitoring recreational water safety. It has a potential to measure the presence of E. Coli bacteria in an inexpensive way and transmit data to a central unit to create an online real‐time database showing recreational water quality.
  • αScreen is a handheld unit for rapid Vibrio cholera and E. Coli bacteria detection from water samples to determine water safety.
  • αScreen helps provide a low cost sensor network for monitoring water safety and disease spreading. It will allow the gathering of data on bacterial occurrence in water supplies on a large scale and will give rise to more accurate geographic information systems to map safe and contaminated water sources.
  • αScreen may provide a continuous water safety monitoring system, which would detect very low numbers of bacteria from high volumes of water constantly pumped through the device with an instantaneous feedback.

αScreen can play an important role in fingerprinting environmental samples, such as acting as a portable platform for rapid multiplexed bacteria detection from blood samples of ill patients at a mobile point‐of‐care in Sub‐Saharan Africa. Medical personnel, without any extensive training, would be able to quickly diagnose which bacteria cause the infection and accurately prescribe a treatment.

With regard to food safety monitoring and health and safety antibiotic resistance, αScreen can act as an important tool for many uses and has many benefits. These may include the following:

  • Acting as a portable platform for rapid multiplexed bacteria detection from blood samples of ill patients at a point‐of‐care. Doctors would be able to diagnose which type of bacteria causes the infection and accurately prescribe only the necessary antibiotic resulting in more efficient disease treatments and limiting antibiotic‐resistance formation.
  • αScreen testing does not require any laboratory space to operate, is low in material and energy consumption, which makes it an environmentally friendly technology
  • αScreen can provide a sensor network integrated with food processing lines in food processing plants for continues food product quality monitoring and for complying with USDA regulations in a cost‐effective way.
  • αScreen is a detection system for bacteria occurrence monitoring in food storing and transporting facilities 

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