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This High Schooler Invented Color-Changing Sutures to Detect Infection

At the nation’s oldest science fair, 17-year-old high school student Dasia Taylor presented a color-changing surgical suture to warn of possible infections.

Society for science

This invention, intended to help surgery patients in Africa detect infections before they become serious, elevated Dasia to the top 40 finalists in the national championship. Regeneron’s search for scientific talent.

Sutures are the perfect solution to a problem that Smithsonian magazine summarizes, where not only are postsurgical infection rates typically higher in Africa, but expensive smartphone-based infection early warning systems are impractical in many African countries where basic cell phones are widely used, but not smartphones.

Beginning her project in 2019 in her chemistry class at Iowa City West High School, the process from theory to practice ended up winning Dasia several regional science fair awards.

His method uses beets, famous as any cook knows for making everything red and purple. The pH of our skin averages 5, while an infected wound raises that acidity to a pH of 9, and it turns out that beets change color from sweet apple red to deep purple as the pH level of their skin increases. around.

“I found that the beets changed color at the perfect pH point,” says Taylor. Smithsonian. “That is perfect for an infected wound. And then I was like, ‘Oh, okay. So the beet is where it is. ‘

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After concluding that the beets were where they are, the next step was to find what material contained the beet juice dye while meeting the natural requirements of the suture thread. A cotton-polyester blend eventually turned out to be the ticket.

Suture thread changes from red to purple after 5 minutes under a pH similar to an infection / Society for Science

After five minutes of infection, the red suture began to turn purple, suggesting that patients would become aware of the infection immediately, perhaps even before being discharged from the hospital.

While he was out of the top ten, Dasia’s sutures were worth $ 25,000, as well as the Seaborg Prize, awarded by the final 40 to the student who most embodied the spirit of their class. Taylor was also honored to speak on behalf of Regeneron’s 2021 Science Talent Search Class.

“I take great pride in the school because when someone in our school does something great, they celebrate it to the full,” says Taylor. “And being able to be one of those kids has been incredible.”

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Interestingly, Taylor sees her fortune elsewhere and wants to study political science at Howard University, before becoming a lawyer when she finishes high school.

(GET TOGETHER Dasia and learn about her project in the video below.)

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