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New Diagnostic Methods for Detecting Microvillus Inclusion Disease

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Microvillus Inclusion disease is a fatal disease found in the Navajo population caused by a single nucleotide polymorphism. It is characterized by intractable diarrhea and is often fatal early in life.1 The current method of diagnosis is sending duodenal biopsies

Microvillus Inclusion disease is a fatal disease found in the Navajo population caused by a single nucleotide polymorphism. It is characterized by intractable diarrhea and is often fatal early in life.1 The current method of diagnosis is sending duodenal biopsies for histopathological examination and confirmatory testing through genomic sequencing. The purpose of this experiment was to create a more simple and cost-effective diagnostic method for detecting Microvillus Inclusion disease. Three methods were explored (RFLP2, ARMS3,4, and Tentacle Probes5,6) and two methods were tested to determine their ability and their efficiency in detecting the SNP that causes the disease.2 Tests using the RFLP2 method and synthetic DNA resulted in 9% false-positive rate and 11% false-negative rate in a blind trial for detecting both target (mutation present) and non-target (mutation absent) DNA when gel analyzing software was used to compare Rf values after gel electrophoresis. Using the ARMS method3, a nine-sample randomized test was run that ended up with 22% false-positive rate and 19% false-negative rate from a blind trial when using a gel analyzing software to determine presence of the SNP by band intensity. Disclaimer: No DNA from human patients was used in this study. Only synthetic DNA used.

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2018-05

Grad School: Human Growth Horror - Creative Project Entry of an Action/Adventure Computer Game Designed to Experimentally Demonstrate Viable Engineering Concepts for Educational Purposes

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The action/adventure game Grad School: HGH is the final, extended version of a BME Prototyping class project in which the goal was to produce a zombie-themed game that teaches biomedical engineering concepts. The gameplay provides fast paced, exciting, and mildly

The action/adventure game Grad School: HGH is the final, extended version of a BME Prototyping class project in which the goal was to produce a zombie-themed game that teaches biomedical engineering concepts. The gameplay provides fast paced, exciting, and mildly addicting rooms that the player must battle and survive through, followed by an engineering puzzle that must be solved in order to advance to the next room. The objective of this project was to introduce the core concepts of BME to prospective students, rather than attempt to teach an entire BME curriculum. Based on user testing at various phases in the project, we concluded that the gameplay was engaging enough to keep most users' interest through the educational puzzles, and the potential for expanding this project to reach an even greater audience is vast.

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2014-05

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Smart Phone Camera Used to Determine Ion Concentration in Saliva Based on Fluorescence Level

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The use of saliva sampling as a noninvasive way for drug analysis as well as the monitoring systems within the body has become increasingly important in recent research. Because of the growing interest in saliva, this project proposes a way

The use of saliva sampling as a noninvasive way for drug analysis as well as the monitoring systems within the body has become increasingly important in recent research. Because of the growing interest in saliva, this project proposes a way to analyze sodium ion concentration in a saliva solution based on its fluorescence level when in the presence of a sodium indicator dye and recorded with a smartphone camera. The dyed sample was placed in a specially designed housing to exclude all ambient light from the images. A source light of known wavelength was used to excite the fluorescent dye and the smartphone camera images recorded the emission light wavelengths. After analysis of the images using ImageJ, it was possible to create a model to determine the level of fluorescence based on sodium ion concentration. The smartphone camera image model was compared to readings from a standard fluorescence plate recorder to test the accuracy of the model. The study found that the model was accurate within 5 % as compared to the fluorescence plate recorder. Based on the results, it was concluded that the method and resulting model proposed in this study is a valid was to analyze saliva or other solutions for their sodium ion concentration via images recorded by a smartphone camera.

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2014-05

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Engineering and Delivery of Synthetic Chromatin Effectors

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Synthetic manipulation of chromatin dynamics has applications for medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology. However, progress in this area requires the identification of design rules for engineering chromatin systems. In this thesis, I discuss research that has elucidated the intrinsic properties of

Synthetic manipulation of chromatin dynamics has applications for medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology. However, progress in this area requires the identification of design rules for engineering chromatin systems. In this thesis, I discuss research that has elucidated the intrinsic properties of histone binding proteins (HBP), and apply this knowledge to engineer novel chromatin binding effectors. Results from the experiments described herein demonstrate that the histone binding domain from chromobox protein homolog 8 (CBX8) is portable and can be customized to alter its endogenous function. First, I developed an assay to identify engineered fusion proteins that bind histone post translational modifications (PTMs) in vitro and regulate genes near the same histone PTMs in living cells. This assay will be useful for assaying the function of synthetic histone PTM-binding actuators and probes. Next, I investigated the activity of a novel, dual histone PTM binding domain regulator called Pc2TF. I characterized Pc2TF in vitro and in cells and show it has enhanced binding and transcriptional activation compared to a single binding domain fusion called Polycomb Transcription Factor (PcTF). These results indicate that valency can be used to tune the activity of synthetic histone-binding transcriptional regulators. Then, I report the delivery of PcTF fused to a cell penetrating peptide (CPP) TAT, called CP-PcTF. I treated 2D U-2 OS bone cancer cells with CP-PcTF, followed by RNA sequencing to identify genes regulated by CP-PcTF. I also showed that 3D spheroids treated with CP-PcTF show delayed growth. This preliminary work demonstrated that an epigenetic effector fused to a CPP can enable entry and regulation of genes in U-2 OS cells through DNA independent interactions. Finally, I described and validated a new screening method that combines the versatility of in vitro transcription and translation (IVTT) expressed protein coupled with the histone tail microarrays. Using Pc2TF as an example, I demonstrated that this assay is capable of determining binding and specificity of a synthetic HBP. I conclude by outlining future work toward engineering HBPs using techniques such as directed evolution and rational design. In conclusion, this work outlines a foundation to engineer and deliver synthetic chromatin effectors.

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2019

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Electrochemical Biosensors for Monitoring Complex Diseases and Comorbidities

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Monitoring complex diseases and their comorbidities requires accurate and convenient measurements of multiple biomarkers. However, many state-of-the-art bioassays not only require complicated and time-consuming procedures, but also measure only one biomarker at a time. This noncomprehensive single-biomarker monitoring, as well

Monitoring complex diseases and their comorbidities requires accurate and convenient measurements of multiple biomarkers. However, many state-of-the-art bioassays not only require complicated and time-consuming procedures, but also measure only one biomarker at a time. This noncomprehensive single-biomarker monitoring, as well as the cost and complexity of these bioassays advocate for a simple, rapid multi-marker sensing platform suitable for point-of-care or self-monitoring settings. To address this need, diabetes mellitus was selected as the example complex disease, with dry eye disease and cardiovascular disease as the example comorbidities. Seven vital biomarkers from these diseases were selected to investigate the platform technology: lactoferrin (Lfn), immunoglobulin E (IgE), insulin, glucose, lactate, low density lipoprotein (LDL), and high density lipoprotein (HDL). Using electrochemical techniques such as amperometry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS), various single- and dual-marker sensing prototypes were studied. First, by focusing on the imaginary impedance of EIS, an analytical algorithm for the determination of optimal frequency and signal deconvolution was first developed. This algorithm helped overcome the challenge of signal overlapping in EIS multi-marker sensors, while providing a means to study the optimal frequency of a biomarker. The algorithm was then applied to develop various single- and dual-marker prototypes by exploring different kinds of molecular recognition elements (MRE) while studying the optimal frequencies of various biomarkers with respect to their biological properties. Throughout the exploration, 5 single-marker biosensors (glucose, lactate, insulin, IgE, and Lfn) and one dual-marker (LDL and HDL) biosensor were successfully developed. With the aid of nanoparticles and the engineering design of experiments, the zeta potential, conductivity, and molecular weight of a biomarker were found to be three example factors that contribute to a biomarker’s optimal frequency. The study platforms used in the study did not achieve dual-enzymatic marker biosensors (glucose and lactate) due to signal contamination from localized accumulation of reduced electron mediators on self-assembled monolayer. However, amperometric biosensors for glucose and lactate with disposable test strips and integrated samplers were successfully developed as a back-up solution to the multi-marker sensing platform. This work has resulted in twelve publications, five patents, and one submitted manuscripts at the time of submission.

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2018