Paul E. Johnson envisions the day when most citizens can have their blood platelets checked quickly for bacteria at a low cost. And he has created the technology that he believes can make a difference in eventually saving lives.
Johnson has created a technology he calls FountainFlow cytometry, which is used for measuring microorganisms in food, water and human blood. The platform technology can be used to detect environmental or drinking water contamination, fungus in the blood and bacteria in blood platelets -- and more quickly than current detection methods, Johnson says.
Platelets are the cells in human blood which cause blood to coagulate upon exposure to air. Platelets are used for transfusions for hospital patients who have undergone trauma or bled out; or for people who are immune-compromised, meaning their bodies cannot naturally produce platelets on their own.
Johnson says his technology -- which he began working on approximately six years ago because he wanted to make a significant societal impact -- can detect fungal infection in blood within a few hours compared to the current methodology, such as culturing, which takes 1-3 days to diagnose a form of fungus. That can be the difference between life and death for a patient who has gone into septic shock. A person can die from septic shock within 1-24 hours while current diagnosis typically takes 48-72 hours, Johnson says.