Mosquito is the deadliest animal on earth. Of course it’s not the instect itself that kills so many people, but the viruses they carry : Chikungunya, Zika, Dengue... As vaccins are yet to be discovered and mosquitoes know of no borders, this is an international issue. Our project attemps to tackle this issue by improving surveillance and prevention.
Today, the main way to fight mosquito-borne diseases is to spray insecticides to kill mosquitoes in the areas that are at risk. Although this method is effective for killing the vector, it introduces other concerns. The ecosystem is damaged and the mosquitoes develop resistance to the insecticide, leading to more spraying.
Therefore, we designed an environmental surveillance system that allows to identify and locate infected mosquitoes. With this precise mapping, the infected areas would be targeted more precisely. Mos(kit)o is a kit containing three tools : a mosquito trap, an analysis station with
a bio-produced detection patch, and a mapping software that generates a mapping of the results.
The trap was designed in collaboration with entomologists to speciffically target mosquitoes. They are attracted into the trap by human pheromone esmission and stagtant water contained in the base of the trap. No electricity is needed for the trap to work. The mosquitoes are contained in a safe hermetic filter that can be removed from the trap and brought to the analysis station. A flashing code allows to register the location of the trap to complete the database.
THE ANALYSIS STATION
This device contains a patch that changes color when in contact with infected mosquito blood. It requires only one operator with minimum training and no power source. The results are readable within a few minutes and several diseases can be tested at once. The filter containing the mosquitoes is placed inside the device. A dedicated cap allows to crush the mosquitoes and extract the blood. A pump piston on the side of the object moves the liquid through a network of pipes to submerge the patch. A second pull of the pump draws the potentially dangerous liquid into an absorbent material turning liquid into gel. This part can be easily thrown away in a biohazard waste container and replaced. The results are then entered into the mapping software.
THE DETECTION PATCH
The patch fabrication is based on synthetic biology. E.coli bacteria’s DNA is modified to produce a new protein. The bacteria is eliminated and the protein is coated on the patch. This protein binds antibodies to the support made of cellulose and silica. This multilayered matrix allows the rigidity needed for manipulation and is totally biodegradable. A simple marking solution reveals the presence of the virus by color change. By adapting the antibodies, we can detect a wide panel of diseases.
ERGONOMICS & SAFETY
These objects are meant for non-scientific users : with a quick formation, volunteer citizens or local authority members can participate in the environmental surveillance. The design of the object ensures easy manipulation and safety. The regularity of the process (twice a week in at risk areas) ensures a reliable mapping, that shows almost in real time the progression of the viruses. The system can act as both a local and international scale. The flash code on the mosquito filter allows to keep track of the provenance and collection date of the sample until the results are entered in the database. In areas without internet connexion, paper results forms are provided that are then shipped by mail to a bigger city.
Catching and analyzing mosquitoes is currently a costly, long, and potentially dangerous process. Our project tries to improve this process on many levels with an innovative approach combining design and synthetic biology.
cost : the current detecting method involves a very costly machine called P.C.R. Our patch would cost only a few cents if mass produced.
timing : the complementarity between the devices and their flexibility (no power source needed) allows to run tests on site within a few minutes, whereas the current method takes days if not weeks when the samples need to be send by mail to a lab.
safety : by designing a very user-friendly system, we allow more people to take part and contribute to the surveillance, thus understanding and engaging in the decision process to fight the mosquitoes.
For any inquiries, don't hesitate to send us an email !