This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I (SBIR) project will develop a novel sensing coating that will be deposited on filters for the detection of water-borne contaminants. The initial target will be the oocysts of Cryptosporidium parvum, a water- borne pthogen. C. Parvum was responsible for the outbreak of cryptosporidiosis affecting 400,000 in Milwaukee WI in 1993 and other smaller outbreaks. Cryptosporidiosis is characterized by abdominal pain and severe diarrhea, and can be fatal to immune-compromised individuals. There is currently no easy and reliable test for C. parvum that allows routine monitoring of drinking water supplies. The proposed research will develop a sensing polymer coating, with antibodies and fluorophores incorporated, on a nanoporous membrane. The membrane will be used as filter to simultaneously concentrate and detect C. parvum in water. Binding of C. parvum to the coating will lead to a fluorescent signal. The Phase I research will focus on antibody conjugation to the polymer, fluorophore incorporation, and coating preparation, with the aim of demonstrating the feasibility of the sensing material. In Phase II, the materials will be optimized and incorporated into a detector that will combine filtration and fluorescence detection for monitoring drinking water supplies.
The principal commercial application of this project will be for detection of water-borne contaminants in our drinking water supplies, with a potential market comprising of a majority of public water systems in the country.