Identifying novel Cas variants for pathogen diagnostics


Project Description

Rapid, point-of-care (POC) diagnostics are essential to mitigate the impacts of current (and future) epidemics; however, current methods for detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) require complicated laboratory tests that are generally conducted off-site and require substantial time. CRISPR-Cas systems have been harnessed to develop sensitive and specific platforms for nucleic acid detection. These detection platforms take advantage of CRISPR enzymes’ RNA-guided specificity for RNA and DNA targets and collateral trans activities on single-stranded RNA and DNA reporters. Microbial genomes possess an extensive range of CRISPR enzymes with different specificities and levels of collateral activity; identifying new enzymes may improve CRISPR-based diagnostics. We work to identify new Cas variants, and characterize its catalytic activity.
Program - BioEngineering
Division - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Field of Study - Bioengineering

About the

Magdy M. Mahfouz

Professor of Bioengineering, Bioscience, and Plant Science

Magdy M. Mahfouz
Bioengineering is a multidisciplinary field that depends on the cross-fertilization of knowledge and advances in the diverse fields of biology, molecular biology, computational biology, engineering, and chemistry. It empowers us to harness these advances, translate ideas into products, and address grand challenges facing humanity. Mahfouz's research group focuses on biomanufacturing, using plants as chassis for bioproduction of select compounds of value, including therapeutics and biopharmaceutical, crop bioengineering using CRISPR systems, and molecular diagnostics of pathogens. The motto of his laboratory, "bioengineering for the future", encapsulates his ideas, beliefs, and goals.

Desired Project Deliverables

Training on different molecular biology techniques and comprehending the components and mechanisms of the CRSIPR-Cas systems.