“More than two billion people around the world live with unrelenting
illness due to parasites” - WHO Director General Lee Jong-wook.
Synthetic biology offers great opportunity for biosensors, however
current designs require hours before useful output. To tackle this
issue in the field, it's crucial that our project can respond in
minutes, hence we have engineered a fast, modular sensor framework.
This allows detection of a range of different parasites, and may also
be used as an environmental tool for mapping their spread. We have
developed two new technologies that enable our modular input/output -
a novel cell surface biosensor, customisable for specific parasitic
proteases, linked through quorum-sensing to a new 'fast-response'
module capable of producing a detectable output in minutes. To
demonstrate the concept, we've designed and fabricated B. subtilis to
give a striking colour readout upon detecting the waterborne
Schistosoma parasite which affects 200 million people worldwide.