The Dundee iGem team has spent the summer developing an innovative synthetic biological detector to monitor bacterial infection in cystic fibrosis patients. The team have constructed a novel biosensor which will detect molecules from two pathogens frequently found in sputum samples from Cystic Fibrosis patients. We have named the project “The Lung Ranger”. Current techniques for culturing isolates from sputum samples take up to 72 hours and samples often need sent away again for further analysis, which can cause a delay in administering vital antibiotic treatment to CF patients. We hope to optimise the ‘The Lung Ranger’ so it will detect bacterial presence in under an hour. The ultimate aim would be for the device to be used for remote monitoring of patients’ lung infection status (i.e. outwith the CF clinic) in the comfort of the patient’s home, or in the GP’s surgery. If used regularly, the device could be used to detect early infection in the CF lung, which could allow for faster and more effective treatment.
The team have been attending local cystic fibrosis clinics to get a sense of what it is like to live with the disease, and to discuss the condition with the patients’ care team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists, and families. Our project has been informed by this community of people to build the most useful device we can within the project’s timescale. The Cystic Fibrosis Trust are excited about the project and have asked us to speak at the CF Trust conference in September in the ” The Hot Of The Press” slot. Additionally we have had strong local support from the local ‘Courier’ newspaper and have the backing of actor Brian Cox who is rector of the University.
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