Infectious diseases pose global health challenges.
Cholera, an infectious disease caused by the waterborne Vibrio cholerae bacterium, remains a major problem in developing countries. V. cholerae is also becoming increasingly antibiotic resistant.
There is a critical need to rapidly detect and identify the bacterium so as to administer the appropriate treatment. The current detection method is still slow or costly.
We are making use of the way V. cholerae communicates to develop novel biosensors, and our research team has engineered E. coli to do so.
We are currently developing the sensor into a potentially cheap and easy-to-use diagnostic tool for use in affected areas, moving the technology from bench to bedside.
Using the current system as a blueprint, we are modifying it to detect other superbugs. In the longer term, we envision having a probiotic sensor which can be easily taken in the form of probiotic drinks.
These could then continuously monitor infectious disease-causing bacteria in our gut and produce early warning when bad bacteria are present.
Associate Professor Poh Chueh Loo, Department of Biomedical Engineering, NUS Faculty of Engineering