Raj Mutharasan, an engineer at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has developed a cheap, quick and simple detector that can quickly spot contamination by deadly strains of E. coli.
News-Medical.com reports that the sensor, which can also detect bugs such as listeria, has attracted the interest of many US government departments. The Department of Agriculture is developing the sensor further with the Drexel team, with the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency part-funding the work. The Department of Homeland Security is interested in its ability to detect other pathogens like anthrax.
In the US alone, 60 people a year die from E. coli, while 73,000 are infected with pathogenic strains. But detection is a slow process that involves food recalls for further testing, and tests can take 24 hours or more. Mutharasan’s detector may speed up the entire process.