Symposium

Of Rising ScholarsFall 2022

Aakash will be presenting at The Symposium of Rising Scholars on Saturday, September 24th! To attend the event and see Aakash's presentation,

Register here!
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Aakash Arumugam's cover illustration
Polygence Scholar2021
Aakash Arumugam's profile

Aakash Arumugam

Sacramento Country Day High SchoolClass of 2024Rocklin, California

About

Hello! My name is Aakash Arumugam and my Polygence project is "Measuring Ferritin levels at Home." Being a passionate endurance athlete, I was diagnosed with chronic sports anemia due to a strenuous training load that resulted in low iron levels in the blood. Since ferritin is a functional biomarker for iron, finding an easy and inexpensive way to quantitatively measure ferritin at home would not only help me but also others who may have similar needs. By the end of this project, I would like to have written a research grant proposal that I can take to nearby labs to design a test kit and test it out. To do this, I will reach out to UC Davis and see if they can help me design this test kit.

Projects

  • "Measuring Ferritin levels at Home" with mentor Alexa (Working project)

Project Portfolio

Measuring Ferritin levels at Home

Started Jan. 21, 2022

Portfolio item's cover image

Abstract or project description

Iron is an essential element in blood to carry out body functions. The body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the organs. According to a study published by the NIH, iron deficiency was found in 56% of runners. So it is extremely common for endurance athletes to experience anemia at some point in their life. This condition is also called “sports anemia” as it occurs when the demand for iron due to strenuous exercise far exceeds iron intake through regular food. According to the NIH article, anemia, if left untreated, could cause serious complications that include heart failure and poor immunity.

Being a passionate endurance athlete myself, I experienced my running performance drop significantly as a result of being anemic. The harder I trained, my race performances were worse as the season progressed. I was fortunate to come across an article describing the importance of iron in running performance that resulted in me getting my blood iron count checked. My running performance improved significantly once the iron levels got back to normal. The current standard of care is for the primary care doctor to recommend the iron test and then go to the lab to get blood drawn; the results would typically be available in a day or few days. Getting the iron level checked frequently is expensive and time consuming. These tests require access to labs that may not be available to everyone. My primary motivation for this project is not only to find a solution for myself, but also help others who experience the same struggles. Thus, I would like to develop a point of care approach to measuring ferritin in blood that is readily accessible and inexpensive.

To that end, ideas based on modifications to the traditional lateral flow immunoassay (LFA) will be presented. The LFA method has been widely used as a qualitative test for a wide range of applications. This project will leverage the latest research to improve the LFA method and combine this with the developments in the field of microfluidics to provide a quantitative measurement of Ferritin that is inexpensive and can be easily done at the point of care. The second idea involves using LFA and a smart phone reader to capture the result using a phone camera. The digital image can then be processed to measure ferritin. In addition to the two proposals based on LFA, the project also includes a backup idea based on a method widely used in forensics to detect blood in a crime scene. The same principle can be leveraged and a device based on electro chemiluminescence will be presented.