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STTR Phase I: Allosteric DNAzyme Sensors for Practical Detection of Cyanotoxins

Award Information

National Science Foundation
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2007 / STTR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
2001 S 1ST ST STE 201 CHAMPAIGN, IL 61820-7478
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2007
Title: STTR Phase I: Allosteric DNAzyme Sensors for Practical Detection of Cyanotoxins
Agency: NSF
Contract: 0711622
Award Amount: $149,995.00


This STTR Phase I research will develop detection methods using allosteric DNAzymes (aptazymes) to detect cyanobacterial toxins that occur throughout the world in both fresh and brackish water. Cyanotoxins present a public safety hazard through contamination of drinking water supplies by blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), and sensitive detection of cyanotoxins has been a long-standing challenge. Although instrumented and immunological methods have been developed, a fast and accurate detection kit with high sensitivity and selectivity is still not available and its development would be very desirable. DzymeTech Inc. and the laboratories at the University of Illinois have previously developed many functional DNA-based sensors for metal ions and small molecules such as cocaine. In this research, a related combinatorial selection method will be used to obtain DNAzymes that are allosterically activated by cyanobacterial toxins. By attaching fluorophore-quencher pairs or gold nanoparticles to the DNA, practical sensors that target cyanobacterial toxins will be generated.Successful completion of this Phase I project will establish the feasibility of using nucleic acids to recognize cyanotoxins and thus have broad impact on a number of fields such as medical diagnostics, bioorganic chemistry, and nanotechnology. Aptazyme-based cyanobacterial toxin sensors will have substantial commercial value. Improved cyanotoxin sensors are urgently needed for rapid response to cyanobacterial outbreaks. These sensors will allow government agencies to make rapid judgments about treatment options and will allow the general public to have safer drinking water. The identification of aptazymes that can recognize cyanotoxins will also broaden our fundamental knowledge of interactions between nucleic acids and small molecules.

Principal Investigator:

Juewen F. Liu

Business Contact:

Geng F. Lu
Small Business Information at Submission:

2001 South First St. Suite 201 6745 HOLLISTER AVENUE Champaign, IL 61820

EIN/Tax ID: 202863203
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Research Institution Information:
Univ of IL Urbana-Champaign
1901 South First St
Urbana, IL 61801 5722
Contact: Scott K. Silverman
Contact Phone: (217) 244-4489
RI Type: Nonprofit college or university