Establishing a rapid, multiplexed diagnostic assay for use in space missions


I plan to verify a Nanopore Technology sequencing-based diagnostic test targeting some of the most prevalent upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) agents. Following validation, I will apply this novel approach to screen for the presence of co-infections in de-identified, bio-banked (archived) clinical SARSCoV-2 positive RNA samples from the state of Alaska. I expect to find the prevalence of co-infecting pathogens significantly correlated with the SARS-CoV-2 Ct value, a semiquantitative measure for viral load and COVID-19 severity, using a two-tailed T-test. After the primary validation of this model, I will expand it to include an extensive array of pathogens. I will then further investigate how the frequency of coinfections varies across a wide range of collection dates and locations as our lab obtains more samples. This secondary validation will serve to strengthen my primary goal: establishing an effective diagnostic tool for the rapid differential diagnosis of URTI in a spaceflight environment


Name: Trevor Abts, Undergraduate Student

Institution: University of Alaska Anchorage

Major: Natural Sciences and Biological Sciences

Mentor: Eric Bortz,

Award: Apprenticeship

Funding Period: 2021 to 2022