Development of a cheaper, faster and more versatile alternative to PCR for pathogen detection

Mónica Serrano


    Mónica Serrano


    Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica António Xavier, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal


    Infectious diseases kill more than 17 million people a year. Although their diagnosis is critical for the effective implementation of public health management policies, almost half of the world's population has little or no access to relevant diagnostic tests. Thus, there is an urgent need for affordable and easy-to-implement diagnostic methods that enable routine health monitoring and testing on a large scale.

    The cost and complexity associated with producing the reagents necessary to conduct molecular diagnostics that identify pathogens through the detection of their genetic material often present an obstacle to routine and large-scale monitoring of infectious disease outbreaks. This is compounded by the need for a cold chain to preserve sensitive reagents, the high cost of equipment and the availability of highly qualified personnel.

    This project focuses on the development of a diagnostic system that is more affordable and easier to implement than current PCR tests. The team has prior experience in developing sensitive, low-cost diagnostic tests, having designed a test for COVID-19 based on a nucleic acid amplification method. In this case, they propose to use a nanoplatform-based technology that uses proteins from the outermost layer of Bacillus subtilis spores as carriers, in conjunction with the nucleic acid amplification method used in the last diagnostic test they developed. With this approach, there would be no need for highly skilled technicians or bulky equipment and, due to the high temperature resistance of the spores, a cold chain would not be required to preserve the reagents, meaning the system could be easily implemented in low-resources settings.


    A versatile and stress-resistant biocatalyst nanoplatform for pathogen detection


    Stage 1