BioDetection Instruments, Inc. has been awarded a National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) Phase I grant to develop an automated cartridge assay for rapid detection of viable Cryptosporidium spores in water.
Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite and is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States. While this parasite can be spread in several different ways, water (drinking water and recreational water) is the most common method of transmission. Under the supervision of Dr. Xiaoli Su, Research and Development Director, the proposed technology will allow for near real-time monitoring of viable Cryptosporidium oocysts in water as it leaves a water treatment facility, but before it is delivered to the public.
The $150,000 grant supports BioDetection Instruments in the development of a cartridge that will detect viable Cryptosporidium oocysts at a sensitivity level required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for drinking water monitoring.
Cryptosporidium oocysts are tolerant to chlorine disinfection and although current EPA methods can detect the presence of oocysts, they cannot determine whether the spores are alive or infectious. BioDetection Instruments’ innovative cartridge will provide quantitative results for living oocysts promptly, and will offer a less complex alternative to current testing.
Parasitic protozoa are responsible for 21% of all waterborne illnesses. Cryptosporidium, commonly referred to as “Crypto,” causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Crypto is found in every region of the U.S. and throughout the world. Although the significance to public health of dead Crypto oocysts is minimal, when the oocysts are infective the risk to public health can be enormous.
The grant will allow BioDetection Instruments to address an unmet need in the market for rapid detection of viable Cryptosporidium in water. While research associated with this grant focuses specifically on Cryptosporidium, the company is also actively working on the detection of other viable waterborne disease-causing protozoan parasites.