Developing an improved test for bacterial water contamination
Location: Cambridge, UK
Type of grant: Core – invention
WaterScope is developing a fast, low-cost bacterial test utilising our small, inexpensive microscope that can detect single bacteria and produce quantitative results in less than two hours.
WHAT HUMANITARIAN NEED IS BEING ADDRESSED?
Globally there are 663 million people without access to safe drinking water. Waterborne diseases from bacterial pathogens result in over 2.2 million deaths every year. The vast majority of those affected are in rural communities, which rely on infrequent visits from water testing companies. Kits currently available to test for bacteria are time-consuming, require power, and cannot be used by scientifically unskilled workers. There is currently no integrated way to share test results meaning that we frequently lack the information required to bring clean water where it is most needed.
WHAT IS THE INNOVATIVE SOLUTION AND HOW WILL IT IMPROVE EXISTING HUMANITARIAN PRACTICE?
WaterScope has created a 3D-printed microscope which is considerably cheaper and more portable than existing microscopes. This can be used to detect growth faster than existing tests, producing quantitative results in less than two hours and allowing tests to be carried out on site, permitting operators to deliver a strategy to the community once the test is complete.
Permanent testing hubs can be established in communities to encourage a bottom-up approach to water testing, reducing reliance upon external aid to test their water sources, and empowering communities to create sustainable change. In conjunction the microscope can be used for educational purposes, enabling rural communities to better understand what contaminates their water so that they can work towards making their water safer.
Data from our tests will automatically upload onto a central database, allowing for real-time mapping and review, and immediate intervention if required.