Basque researchers hone rapid pathogen detection

by Editor
Friday, February 15, 2013

Rapid diagnosis tools to identify germs on the production line are being developed by scientists at the Basque CIC microGUNE cooperative research centre.

They are using the Predetec project to develop methods for identifying specific strains of pathogens, as well as general types, with trials so far focusing on Campylobacter jejuni. In addition, those conducting the tests say they could be broadened to identify other forms of pathogens, such as Salmonella and E.coli, or viruses.

The tools being explored at the moment are based partly on electrochemical detection incorporated into a "lab-on-a-chip".

The scientists are also investigating the use of localised surface plasmon resonance, an optical technique based on the study of light transmission through small apertures on a scale of a few hundred nanometers. This is able to discover very small amounts of harmful substances being sought, they claim.

Funding is now being sought to develop a prototype device, which the researchers expect to be ready by the end of 2013, ready for trials in 2014. The plan is to begin production in 2015.

The researchers said there was an urgent need to develop such rapid pathogen detection at source, driven by factors increasing the risk of their transmission. These included the proliferation of intensive methods of food production and an increase in distances for transporting food and storage times.