Paradise Lost

ROSALIND, a cell-free biosensor, can assess water safety and quality with just a single drop and a few minutes. The tests can sense 17 different contaminants, including toxic metals such as lead and copper, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and cleaning products.  These exciting findings were published on July 6th in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

To test the new platform in the field, creator Julius Lucks, his lab researchers, and Professor Jean-François Gaillard visited Paradise, California in summer 2019. One year earlier, a string of massive wildfires obliterated the northern California town, destroying nearly 19,000 buildings and displacing most of its population. Gaillard, a professor of environmental engineering, is an expert in the biogeochemical processes that affect metals in the aquatic system.

Lucks, Gaillard, and their teams tested ROSALIND alongside gold-standard water tests and discovered that ROSALIND was able to identify the presence of elevated toxic metals in the water supply. It also provided much faster and less expensive results.

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