Real-time Detection of Food-borne Pathogens and Toxins
This project involves the development of a label-free detection technique for real-time and high-sensitivity detection of foodborne pathogens in meat processing and packaging facilities. It will be based on the development of highly specific and temporally-stable capture ligands for target pathogen detection. The detection technique will be based on measuring extremely small changes in the physical environment of a surface due to the binding of target pathogens. The capture ligands are extremely stable and make the assay suitable for field operations. The system to be developed will perform sample collection and be compatible with stand-alone operation in a wireless network setting. This approach will provide an alternate to the gold-standard antibodybased assays without compromising the binding affinities for target pathogens. Currently, there is no label-free sensor technology to detect foodborne pathogens and toxins in in a real-time. The technology to be developed will incorporate three distinct key aspects: (1) a label-free capture probe for target pathogens, (2) a real-time detection platform, and (3) testing in relevant food matrices. The work proposed here will offer great benefits to foodborne pathogen detection, disease prevention and combating disease outbreak through contaminated food. It will result in a real-time technology that will replace traditional laboratory based assays for contamination analysis, which take several hours to identify pathogens. It will also result in a pathogen detection assay technology having the unique ability to rapidly detect biological pathogens without the need for labeling the captured targets, and offer the ability to also determine the concentration of the pathogens while simultaneously confirming their presence. It will possess the reliable and portable detection capability needed to assess the quality and safety of meat and food products, and also be widely applicable in sectors such as water monitoring, agriculture, medical diagnostics, etc. The key to the proposed system is the reliability and small-size that will allow for implementing a network of sensors across a large food processing plant and at the same time can be used by small farms and meat packaging plants. The development and field testing of stand-alone systems to satisfy the necessary performance characteristics, such as accuracy, sensitivity and reliability, will be a tremendous step towards the successful commercial large-scale manufacturing of biosensors for foodborne disease detection and prevention.
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Director, Biological and Nanoscale Techn
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