Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

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

25.06.2002


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 One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>