A key element in preventing E. coli O157 related illness is rapid and sensitive detection. In this project, novel peptides will be developed through direct molecular evolution to alter the binding specificity and enhance the sensitivity of the molecule to E.coli O157:H7.
The newly developed peptides will be evaluated as markers for rapid detection of E. coli O157 in foods using a fluorescent biosensor developed in the investigators' laboratory and will be compared with several existing peptides as well as with antibodies.</p>
The proposed research will lead to a biosensor device that can achieve rapid and sensitive detection of E. coli O157:H7 in foods and will greatly improve our ability to combat this dangerous pathogen. The underlying principles can be applied to the detection of a variety of other pathogens, thereby improving the safety of the food supplies in this country.</p>
The President's Food Safety Initiative has set priorities to reduce foodborne illness nationwide. The scientific estimates project that each year in the United States approximately 76 million people become ill from foodborne disease at a cost of between $5 billion and $8 billion in medical care and lost productivity. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli serotype O157:H7 (E. coli O157:H7) is one of the most dangerous pathogens,and has become an emerging cause of foodborne illness with approximately 73,000 cases of E. coli O157:H7 related illnesses occurring each year. Most outbreakscaused by E. coli O157:H7 involve hot dogs, meat patties, fresh vegetables, milk, or water. </p>