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Cardiff researchers in final of the SET for Britain awards

13 March 2015

Dr Tina Joshi and Dr Jonny Lees at SET for Britain.

The final of the 2015 SET for Britain event took place at the Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster on Monday, 9th March 2015, sponsored by Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the SET for Britain organising group of the UK Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.

SET for BRITAIN exists to raise the profile of Britain's early-stage researchers at Westminster by engaging Members of both Houses of Parliament with current science, engineering and mathematics research being undertaken in the UK, especially that by their local constituents and in their local University.

Dr Tina Joshi from the School of Pharmacy and Dr Jonny Lees from the School of Engineering attended the event to showcase their joint research on “Microwave enhanced detection of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria”. The Rt Hon Jenny Willott (MP for Cardiff Central”) attended the event to find out about Tina’s research, as did Stephen Doughty (MP for Penarth & Cardiff South). Mr Doughty was very impressed with the research project and later tweeted “Brilliant to meet @tinaljoshi @cardiffuni at @SET4Brit today - amazing research - like a real Star Trek tricorder!!”

Tina’s current research is an extension of the research she undertook during her PhD. Tina is based in the School of Pharmacy but is working in collaboration with research staff in the School of Engineering. She is in the process of developing an improved point-of-care rapid diagnostic device and assay capable of detecting DNA of bacterial pathogens such as C. difficile and Bacillus anthracis in samples within 5 minutes without need for prior purification.

The key element of this approach is the application of novel, high efficiency and high precision microwaves developed by Engineering which can allow easy liberation of bacterial DNA required for the assay. The bacteria are microwaved within an electric field for 5 seconds at 2.45 GHz to liberate DNA which is subsequently detected by Cardiff University patented probes specific to the toxin genes of C. difficile.

The assay can deliver a precise result within 5 minutes and the team (comprising Prof. Adrian Porch, Dr. Jonathan Lees, Dr. (Lovleen) Tina Joshi and Prof Les Baillie) aim to deliver a commercially viable prototype device to market within the next 2 years. This application of this research aims to produce a hand held multi-pathogen detector which will be able to detect particular types of bacteria quickly and effectively. The research is funded by Cardiff University, the Wellcome Trust, Royal Mail, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.