Two ongoing studies funded by the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) are looking to improve detection and control methods for Cyclospora cayetanensis. A complex protozoan parasite, C. cayetanensis is extremely challenging to culture in a laboratory setting, and requires complicated microscopy for detection in samples.
The first project, led by Purdue University’s Lia Stanciu, Ph.D., seeks to use “aptamers”—or short strands of synthesized DNA—to bind to C. cayetanensis. The aptamers would then be used to create a paper-based, low-cost, and easy-to-use water test for the parasite, similar to rapid COVID-19 or pregnancy tests.
The second study is exploring the use of zero-valent iron (ZVI) sand filters to remove C. cayetanensis from water, evaluating the basic principle that physical exclusion might be an option to reduce parasite burdens.