Development of a Cryptosporidium oocyst assay using an automated fiber optic-based biosensor

Biomed Central
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Biological Engineering, 2007, 1 (3), pp. 1 - 11
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An intestinal protozoan parasite, Cryptosporidium parvum, is a major cause of waterborne gastrointestinal disease worldwide. Detection of Cryptosporidium oocysts in potable water is a high priority for the water treatment industry to reduce potential outbreaks among the consumer populace. Anti-Cryptosporidium oocyst polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies were tested as capture and detection reagents for use in a fiber optic biosensor assay for the detection of Cryptosporidium oocysts. Antibodies were validated using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, flow cytometry, Western blotting and fluorescent microscopy. Oocysts could be detected at a concentration of 105 oocysts/ml when the polyclonal antibodies were used as the capture and detection reagents. When oocysts were boiled prior to detection, a ten-fold increase in sensitivity was achieved using the polyclonal antibody. Western blotting and immunofluorescence revealed that both the monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies recognize a large (>300 kDa) molecular weight mucin-like antigen present on the surface of the oocyst wall. The polyclonal antibody also reacted with a small (105 kDa) molecular weight antigen that was present in boiled samples of oocysts. Preliminary steps to design an in-line biosensor assay system have shown that oocysts would have to be concentrated from water samples and heat treated to allow detection by a biosensor assay.
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