The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the diagnosis of TB by sputum smear microscopy in testing patients suspected of having symptoms of pulmonary TB. Smear microscopy technique is simple, rapid and inexpensive but is less sensitive than culture or molecular techniques and can require multiple sputum examinations. This approach requires a highly trained and dedicated technician to accurately identify samples without false positive/negative results. Culture based methods have high sensitivity and specificity, and therefore they remain the gold standard test. However, despite its high reliability, the Mycobacterium culture is notoriously time-consuming and costly. Among alternate TB testing assays, nucleic acid amplification based assays (NAATs) are most promising, more relevant and sensitive. However, high-cost infrastructure and advanced technical skill requirements to perform these tests are beyond the scope of most local diagnostic facilities.
This project aims to develop a handheld lab-on-a-chip diagnostic device based on real-time loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) to provide a cost-effective NAAT assay to rapidly detect mycobacteria type in pulmonary sputum samples. LAMP will require constant incubation temperature, and therefore can be implemented with simplified instrumentation. This device will perform a multiplex RT-LAMP in less than 15 min reaction and wirelessly transmit diagnostic data to clinical centres, allowing the patient to be evaluated remotely and treatment suggested at the point of care.
The successful student will form part of a multidisciplinary team and will be supervised by Dr. Ali K. Yetisen based in the Institute of Translational Medicine (www.itmbirmingham.co.uk) and the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham.
Students must have an undergraduate degree or master’s degree in engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, materials science, software engineering or a closely related subject.
University of Birmingham scholarships are available for exceptional UK/EU students. Applications will be evaluated on an on-going basis until the position is filled.
Plasmid-based High-Resolution Melting Analysis for Rapid Detection of rpoB Mutations in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Isolates from Moroccan Patients. BMC Infectious Diseases, 17, 548 (2017)