There are approximately ten times more bacteria in the human body than there are human cells and about half of our DNA is made of virus-like components. These organisms perform some of the most important roles in maintaining life on this planet.
Throughout our evolutionary process, we always lived in a symbiotic tacit agreement with infectious organisms. Every aspect of our body is concerned with the prevention of infections, tears, saliva, hair, skin, all contain chemicals that eliminate bugs. And yet, changes in that balance cause viruses and bacteria to be responsible for some of the deadliest diseases.
With increasing resistance to antibiotics, the need for rapidly pinpoint infectious organisms has never been greater.
The technological improvements on the detection of infectious organisms are opening doors to future disease surveillance schemes designed to monitor and forecast potential epidemics, therefore keeping low levels of infection among the population.
However, are these tools contributing to global wellbeing or excessive paranoia? Are we promoting a health-educated society or conceiving geographical hypochondria?
Pathogen Hunter project is a collaboration with AptaMEMS-ID research team based at Newcastle University.
The AptaMEMS-ID aim is to develop nano-enabled sensor systems towards the detection of infectious organisms, devices capable of detecting target bacteria within minutes.
The Pathogen Hunter project explores how disease monitoring might change our health etiquette. Surveillance personnel - Pathogen Hunters - would be specially trained with specific tools to manage infectious outbreaks. But no matter how clean we are or how healthy we feel, we still carry billions of microbes on our bodies.
Will we change our behaviour by preventing the spread of pathogens to others?
What will be the consequences for our social conventions?
Prof. Calum McNeil, Prof. Colin Harwood, Dr James Henderson, Dr Neil Keegan, Dr. Phillip Manning, Ms Becci Sharrock, Mrs Julia Spoors, AptaMEMS ID research team, Clinical and Laboratory Sciences, Newcastle University.
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