A Diagnostic Assay for IL-33 and sST2 as Biomarkers for Acute Kidney Disease; A Sociotechnical Analysis of Kidney Disease Awareness Campaigns

Blackshear, Autumn, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Sharma, Rahul, MD-INMD-Ctr Inflammation Reg, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Barker, Shannon, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Allen, Timothy, EN-Biomed Engr Dept, University of Virginia

Kidney diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The two main types of kidney disease are acute kidney injury (AKI) and chronic kidney disease (Digital, n.d.). Both of these diseases pose a great risk to the health of individuals, as there is great concern surrounding the growing number of individuals living with kidney disease and the various effects on the body. This portfolio contains two independent research projects relating to kidney disease. The technical report works to design a diagnostic tool to detect AKI in cardiac surgery patients. Instead of measuring the creatinine levels in the blood or urine, this diagnostic tool will be a urine assay that detects biomarkers, Interleukin 33 (IL-33) and soluble Suppressor of Tumorigenicity 2 (sST2). The STS research project will investigate kidney disease health awareness campaigns, such as “Are You the 33%?”. A comparative analysis will be conducted using “Are You the 33%?” and public health awareness campaigns for other diseases. This analysis will determine the effectiveness of the campaign’s digital components for spreading awareness and important resources to members of the community.
AKI is a common complication of cardiac surgery, which occurs in approximately 31.0% of patients (Ramos & Dias, 2018). AKI is an abrupt loss of kidney function caused by a decrease in the perfusion of blood, or ischemia (Makris & Spanou, 2016). This disease can have devastating effects on the body and cause other organs to fail including the heart, liver, and brain (Makris & Spanou, 2016). Early diagnosis and treatment are important for preventing organ failure. Currently, blood and urine tests are used for AKI diagnosis to measure urine output and creatinine levels, which is a waste product of the body (Acute Kidney Injury, 2018). However, the use of creatinine tests are not perfect because they lack sensitivity and specificity (Zhou et al., 2006). Therefore, this technical report will utilize two biomarkers, IL-33 and sST2, to design an AKI urine assay that can be used to detect AKI in earlier stages of the disease. There are two aims of this project. First, the biomarkers, IL-33 and sST2, will be studied to identify the ideals conditions that maintain the biomarkers’ stability. These conditions will be included in the second aim, which is the standardization of a protocol for an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) that will include an accurate, reliable, and sensitive detection of IL-33 and sST2.
With approximately 37 million Americans affected by kidney disease, 90% of these individuals are not aware they have kidney disease (Kidney Disease, 2021). Based on these statistics, one may wonder what can be done to significantly reduce the number of individuals who are unaware of kidney disease. Public health campaigns sponsored by organizations such as the National Kidney Foundation have been launched in an effort to spread awareness in various communities throughout the United States. However, these kidney awareness campaigns may not be as successful as they need to reach those who are unaware of kidney disease. This STS research project will evaluate the effectiveness of kidney disease awareness campaigns through a comparative analysis. Additional health campaigns such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The Hear Her Campaign, and Learn More Breathe Better will also be utilized to conduct this analysis by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each campaign. The research conducted for this investigation will be evaluated through Langdon Winner’s theory of political technologies to develop a greater understanding of the techniques used to spread awareness to members of the community. The results from this research should provide insight into how technologies are utilized in kidney awareness campaigns to reach the public. Strategies to improve the public’s interactions with the technology will also be proposed, which will improve the effectiveness of the kidney disease awareness campaigns.
This portfolio provided insight into the prevention and early detection of kidney disease from different perspectives. The technical report allowed for the development of a diagnostic tool that can potentially be used in clinical settings to diagnose AKI in the earlier stages. With an earlier diagnosis, there are more options for treating patients with AKI and increasing the chances of a full recovery. The STS report focused on the effectiveness of health campaigns in spreading awareness about kidney disease. Research conducted during this STS project highlighted the digital components of the health awareness campaigns and discussed potential techniques that can aid in spreading awareness in the community. Overall, this portfolio has the potential to make a positive impact on the field of nephrology and the community members impacted by kidney disease.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Acute Kidney Disease, Public Health Awareness Campaign, Theory of Political Technology, Cardiac Surgery

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Rahul Sharma, Ph.D.
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook, Ph.D.
Technical Team Members: Autumn Blackshear, Ashwin Swaminathan

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