Engineers have developed a supersensitive method to find dangerous microbes in water

Research by Professor Eva Goldies of the UNSW Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering and her team confirms

that the ultra-sensitive CRISPR technology can identify the presence of Cryptosporidium in water.

Cryptosporidium is a genus of protozoa, unicellularorganisms that cause diseases of the human gastrointestinal tract. Certain types of cryptosporidium can infect humans, causing the digestive system to become ill. Cryptosporidiosis, which is usually not dangerous for people with healthy immune systems, but is often fatal for people who are immunocompromised.

The new technology also has the potential for further development and could identify other types of viruses, including COVID-19, in wastewater samples.

Until now, for the detection of cryptosporidium more oftenall required the use of expensive laboratory equipment, specialized microscopes, and skilled training to identify a microbe in a water sample. But the new method, which the researchers have developed, is cheaper, easier to use, and requires little or no special training to analyze the results. The system creates a characteristic fluorescent light in the water sample when it detects cryptosporidium.

The authors note that the new development identifies even one sample of the virus in the sample, provided that even two microbes can cause serious infection.

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