Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Clemson researchers create biosensors to protect nation’s food and water supplies


Unlike nuclear terrorism, bioterrorism won’t begin with a bang. It will begin with a whimper — a child feeling the effects of food poisoning.

E.coli, Listeria, Campylobacter, Salmonella are not weapons of mass destruction, they are weapons of mass disruption. Experts say it’s not a matter of if but when terrorists will attempt a strike at our food or water supply. If they succeed, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans will become sick, and some among the youngest and oldest victims could die.

An early warning detection system is urgently needed. At Clemson University, researchers are developing a biosensor that will make contaminated food glow in the dark.

A team of chemists, microbiologists and food scientists have devised a way to tether luminescent molecules to food pathogens, such as E.coli, and Salmonella. Using nanotechnology, the researchers are building a new screening method to protect our food supply.

"What’s needed is a simple, low cost way to rapidly detect pathogens at the site of contamination, not having to wait for lab results," said food science professor and team leader Paul Dawson. "What we have worked on are particles that are luminescent, providing a way to flash an alarm to hold the food for closer examination."

Chemists used a similar technique to identify worms in pecans. The worms would absorb a chemical that would glow under UV or "black" light. Dawson, along with professors Ya-Ping Sun, Xiuping Jiang, Feng Chen and James C. Acton, have miniaturized the process by applying nanotechnology, the science of building structures at molecular and atomic levels. It is not just the science of the very small, it is a technology, enabling the practical application of that knowledge by scientists who investigate arranging atoms to create innovations that can be seen only with electron microscopes.

Nature does a great job of putting together molecules and other nanoscale components in complex patterns, Dawson said. His team is working on a single molecule process, creating a "protein key" that would "key and lock" with another molecule and creating a bio-alarm, when key and lock fit. Most pathogens and toxins have a unique "lock," and by attaching the matching "key" on the surface of a luminescing nanoparticle, a nanosensor can be created. The sensor signal can be rapidly detected and be a first line of defense in identifying food or water that has been contaminated.

"The nanoparticle can move into crevices in the food source, where a pathogen could be hidden from microscopic view," Dawson said. "The particle’s extremely small size increases the odds that the antibody and antigen will link, enabling the sensor to give off a glow. The more connections, the greater the glow."

Derived from the Greek word for midget, "nano" means a billionth part. A nanometer (abbreviated nm), for example, is one billionth of a meter. An atom measures about one-third of a nanometer. The diameter of a human hair is about 200,000 nm.

Peter Kent | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

First-time reconstruction of infectious bat influenza viruses

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Novel method to benchmark and improve the performance of protein measumeasurement techniques

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Amazon rain helps make more rain

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>