Test quickly detects if food is contaminated

U. MISSOURI (US) — Food safety and bioterrorism defense may benefit from an improved toxin detection test that researchers are hoping will boost the economy, too.

The technique could make food contamination testing more rapid and accurate. The detection test also could accelerate warnings after bioterrorism attacks. A report on the method is published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics.


“Quickly stopping the spread of toxins saves lives, whether those toxins are from natural processes or enemy attacks,” says lead author Sangho Bok, postdoctoral fellow working under the supervision of Shubhra Gangopadhyay in the University of Missouri’s College of Engineering.

“Our technique uses nanoparticles to make detection one hundred times more sensitive than the standard method now used, known as ELISA. We have also reduced the time needed to detect a threat to only one hour, compared to four to six hours for ELISA.”

Currently, Bok’s testing method detects a toxin that causes food poisoning, a chemical known as Clostriudium botulinum neurotoxin A. Engineers and biologists now seek to adapt the test to detect many other dangerous chemicals.

Beyond helping protect people from deadly toxins, Bok’s technique may bring jobs and foreign investment to America. Study co-author and professor Keshab Gangopadhyay hopes to open a factory that will manufacture the nanoparticles used in the detection technique. To achieve this goal, Gangopadhyay founded Nanos Technologies LLC.

“Science, employment, and economic development are all tied together,” says Gangopadhyay. “Food safety testing presents a large market that is growing quickly in developing nations like China and India. Engineering research helps tap into that market while creating local jobs and attracting the attention of investors.”

Source: University of Missouri

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