Kirill Alexandrov of the University of Queensland in Australia will develop a low-cost diagnostic that uses well-established glucose biosensors to detect DNA of infectious pathogens. The biosensor will be built by splitting the enzyme glucose dehydrogenase in half, and attaching each half to a protein that is engineered by zinc-finger nuclease technology to bind a specific sequence of DNA in a pathogen. In the presence of that pathogen, the enzyme becomes whole and reacts with glucose to produce an electric current that can be read by portable electronic devices including smartphones. They will optimize their approach, tailor it to detect the dengue virus, and evaluate it using bodily fluids such as serum and saliva. They will also test whether they can combine their approach with a simple DNA amplification method to increase the sensitivity of detection.
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