Simple lateral flow assays for microbial detection in stool
Diarrheal diseases claim the lives of 1300 children daily, mostly in the developing world. We have developed a simple lateral flow assay capable of detecting E. coli and EPEC DNA and RNA rapidly (<15 minutes) at the point-of-need, directly from stool without nucleic acid extraction or molecular amplification. The limit of detection of the method is 1 nM using synthetic DNA target substrates spiked into stool. However, due to the endogenous amplification of the 23S rRNA targets, we were able to detect the endogenous EPEC in pea-sized (5 mg) stool without labor-intensive and time-consuming nucleic acid purification or target amplification using enzymes. The significance of this method is that it is rapid (<15 minutes) and simple (without nucleic acid purification or molecular amplification) and does not require instrumentation, or access to a laboratory, cold chain or electric power. Thus, it is well-suited for point-of-need use in remote and/or resource-limited settings in the developing world where the mortality due to diarrheal diseases is especially high. The rapid testing of stool pathogens in real time at the point-of-need will decrease the loss of patients to follow-up, and enable patients to be treated earlier with the appropriate therapeutics in both the developed and developing world settings.