Archer’s annual STEM Symposium is an opportunity for Los Angeles high school students who have completed independent or small group projects in STEM to present their findings. Students are invited to present their research in the fields of molecular biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering.
The Archer RISE Award honors exceptional young women for their innovative scientific research or engineering design projects that further existing knowledge or develop solutions to pressing scientific challenges. Finalists for the RISE Award are noted in throughout the online program and will be awarded at lunch on May 21.
This research project was aimed to create a low-cost and rapid Lyme disease detector that does not require the capabilities of a lab and, therefore, can be used at home. The process was guided by the question, can a novel, qualitative lateral flow assay detect sparse Lyme Disease antigens in urine? The lateral flow assay was designed with the goal of taking a maximum time of 30 minutes to obtain results once the detector is dipped in urine, similar to a pregnancy test. It was crucial to design a biosensor (a detective that can test extremely low concentrations) that detects antigens and not antibodies for Lyme disease because the antibodies develop well after the antigens (OspA, OspB, OspC) have infiltrated the immune system, making early diagnosis impossible. The antigens are outer-surface proteins that are shed by the bacteria in the body before the adverse effects take place. A lateral flow assay detector that took advantage of the avidin-biotin interaction and heat shock was developed in order to answer the question. In the trials to test the detector, purchased antigens were diluted in water to reach concentration levels that would be found in the urine at various stages of the disease. Currently, tests require lab technologies, use serum, and have a low accuracy rate, and there is not a single point-of-care detector that can be taken at home and give results in real time. Thus, the success of a cost-effective, accurate and rapid self-examination urinary detector for Lyme disease is unprecedented.