Yingda Xie of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in the U.S. and Joaniter Nankabirwa of Makerere University in Uganda will use CRISPR-based technology to monitor respiratory, food-borne and antimicrobial-resistant pathogens in Ugandan wastewater. A recent Ebola outbreak in Uganda highlights the need for routine multi-pathogen surveillance. However, the vast quantities and diversities of microbes in wastewater make it hard to identify those that might cause deadly outbreaks. They will combine CRISPR-based diagnostics with the recently developed multiplex assay, Combinatorial Arrayed Reactions for Multiplexed Evaluation of Nucleic acids (CARMEN), which enables highly sensitive and specific detection of over 150 nucleic acid sequences from dozens of samples in parallel. They will assess the performance of a field-deployable CRISPR assay to monitor specific pathogens in hospital sewage lines of Mulago Hospital. They will also leverage CARMEN to broadly survey for high-priority outbreak pathogens, including Ebola and yellow fever, in Kampala’s regional wastewater sources.
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