Penn students win over $70,000 to revolutionize water and drug testingFour students at the University of Pennsylvania have an idea they believe ...Penn students win over $70,000 to revolutionize water and drug testing
Four students at the University of Pennsylvania have an idea they believe will transform drug and water testing — and they just won more than $70,000 to help launch it.
Driving the news: ToxiSense, a group founded by the Penn freshmen, took home the top prize at the university's Venture Lab Startup Challenge last month for a proposed model to test certain pharmaceutical products and water for harmful endotoxins.
ToxiSense was awarded $70,000 in cash and at least $10,000 worth of additional support services.
The big picture: Both biopharmaceutical products and drinking water must be tested for bacterial endotoxins, which can cause sickness and even death.
The biomedical industry is heavily reliant on the use of horseshoe crabs' blue blood, which is both expensive and environmentally damaging, to test for those toxins.
A gallon of the blood can cost as much as $60,000.
How it works: ToxiSense genetically engineered a plant — a weed related to cauliflower — to glow based on the amount of endotoxins present, CEO and co-founder Aravind Krishnan told Axios.
Krishnan said his group could produce a single endotoxin test for less than 50 cents, compared to $19 per test for those that include horseshoe crab blood.