Researchers at Purdue University have engineered a bacteriophage to detect strains of E. Coli in food. The phage targets E. coli O157:H7, a strain of the bacteria which causes food poisoning, kindey failure and death (through its secretion of the lethal Shiga toxin, one of the most toxic to humans).
The virus was engineered to induce luciferase expression in the cells it infects, causing the microbes to emit light. The virus was engineered for rapid diagnostic function, and produces detectable signals within just a few hours. This diagnostic method is cheaper than those which currently exist, and provides a modifiable template for the detection of other bacterial pathogens in food, such as Salmonella.
- Muzz Shittu