Mumbai woman designs kit using which even kids can find next antibiotic
The kit is like a small pop-up lab, which allows to test samples from leaves, tree bark, flowers and soil for their antimicrobial propertiesUpdated: Oct 18, 2017 00:20 IST
At a time when the world is combating people’s resistance to antibiotics, a city-based designer has created a kit using which children and adults can search for a new antibiotic.
Vidhi Mehta, 27, during her stint at the Royal College of Arts London, created ‘Post/Biotics’. The kit can be used to test samples of ‘anything biological’ for its antimicrobial properties.
“Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem. But for all you know, the clue to the next antibiotic (antimicrobial) property could be in your garden,” says Mehta, whose creation is currently being exhibited in the healthcare innovation section at Gwangju Design Biennale 2017, an art exhibition in South Korea.
The kit is like a small pop-up lab, which allows to test samples from leaves, tree bark, flowers and soil for their antimicrobial properties and send the results, pictures and GPS location to an online database.
The data will then be verified by experts from Imperial College, London, and University of Chicago, with whom Mehta has partnered.
“If the sample has antimicrobial properties, it will change colour,” she said, adding that when the database notices something that might be interesting, it pings researchers at various universities, who can ask for the samples.
The idea of developing such a kit came to her after she read a blog by a scientist from university of Chicago. “I contacted the scientist after reading his blog. It was a collaborative work, in which, we built on the principle of art, science and a design which already exists,” Mehta said.
In the coming months, Mehta wants to conduct workshops for Mumbai children to teach them how to use to kit.
“Over the years, the city has seen an increasing problem of drug resistance, especially with Tuberculosis. Involving children in an activity like hunting for the next antibiotic, will make them aware of the seriousness of the problem of drug resistance and could also inculcate the habit of completing their antibiotic dose,” Mehta said.
Joanne Nicholls, head tutor, University College London, who conducted a workshop with 25 teachers in London, on using the kit, said, “The kit (Post/Biotics) is helping tutors put science in context for children in a really practical way. It teaches them about drug resistance and simultaneously also gives them a solution as to how they can help prevent it.”