The drug group, known as Nitroimidazoles, was once widely used in veterinary medicine to treat animal disease such as anaerobic bacterial and parasitic infections, but concerns over the safety of the drugs led to them being banned for use in animal production. However, due to their effectiveness in the treatment of certain diseases and the difficultly in detecting the misuse of the drugs, it has been alleged that widespread use of these drugs in some parts of the world still persists. The presence or absence of such drug residues in food commodities has major implications in respect to both food safety and international trade.
Funded by the Invest Northern Ireland ‘Proof of Concept’ programme, Professor Elliott, Head of the Food Safety Research Group at Queen’s, has now used the latest techniques in Nanotechnology to provide an innovative food-testing kit for such residues that is exceptionally rapid and reliable in comparison to the complex, costly and time-consuming monitoring systems currently available.
Many or even most of the food ingredients eaten every day contain nanoscale particles and naturally occurring nanoscale ingredients and the value of nanotechnology to the food industry has been estimated at £220 million in 2006. That figure is expected to grow to over £3 billion by 2012.
Having developed the reagents involved and optimised an analytical procedure using an optical biosensor to detect the presence of the drugs in foods, Professor Elliott and his team then sent a prototype test kit to regulatory laboratories around the world. The results of this multi-national validation exercise proved the kit could actually detect the compounds involved to the low parts per billion (ppb) levels required. This in turn, generated high levels of interest from the major regulatory bodies involved and several commercial entities, before Xenosense Ltd, a Northern Ireland based biosensor kit manufacturer agreed to commercialise the product.
Speaking about the revolutionary new kit and the commercialisation process, Professor Elliott said: “It is projects like this that illustrate the importance of the viable research being performed at Queen’s Institute of Agri-Food and Land Use, in addressing current food safety issues and in being able to transfer that knowledge through to the advantage of local industry.
“To have a company such as Xenosense Ltd, a Northern Ireland based biosensor kit manufacturer and one of our spin out companies from Queen’s through the QUBIS operation, agree to commercialise the method and offer the product to both the global market of regulatory laboratories and the Agri-Food Industry, is proof positive of the value of our work.
“The official launch of the new product is planned for later this year and we are delighted that with the help of Invest NI, we have taken a locally funded research programme and converted it into a commercially viable end product which will make a real difference to people’s lives.”
John Thompson, Director of Innovation, Research and Technology at Invest NI added: “Proof of Concept has proven itself to be a vital source of assistance for innovative research projects undertaken at both Queen’s University and the University of Ulster.
“By supporting the pre-commercialisation of leading-edge technologies emerging from Northern Ireland’s universities, Proof of Concept can support researchers as they bring inventions and ideas into the global marketplace – adding wealth to our economy and further reinforcing Northern Ireland as a world class research and development hub.”
Lisa Mitchell | alfa
Spanish scientists create a 3-D bioprinter to print human skin
24.01.2017 | Carlos III University of Madrid
Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis
23.01.2017 | Massachusetts General Hospital
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine