Novel assay, laser pulses pair to speed pathogen detection

Feb. 19, 2020
The two key features of the new pathogen detection technology are the incorporation of lanthanides and simple lateral flow paper-based assays.

Seeing the dire need to help stop the spread of foodborne illnesses with a more-efficient pathogen detection method, a research team at Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN) has developed a lanthanide-based assay coupled with a laser that can be used to detect toxins and pathogenic E. coli in food samples, water, and a variety of industrial materials.

The two key features of the new technology are the incorporation of lanthanides and simple lateral flow paper-based assays. The team created a method for combining different heavy metals that when linked to antibodies can detect multiple agents in a single analysis.  

“Our goal was to incorporate easily detectable elements into a paper-based assay which is low-cost and effective,” says J. Paul Robinson, the SVM Professor of Cytomics in Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine and a professor of biomedical engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering. “Designing a technology that is both low-cost but also accurate and can detect multiple antigens simultaneously was a critical factor in our decision to work on this problem.” 

The approach uses a high-powered laser pulse to obliterate a sample, while simultaneously collecting the spectral signature of the resultant emission. These signals are then compared with a database that translates the signals into an identification of the toxin or pathogen. 

The work presented in the research team's paper shows the proof of principle and is the basis for significant expansion of the studies. What makes the technology effective is the linking of antibodies to different heavy metal tags. This creates a unique fingerprint of atomic signatures that can be used to determine if any particular pathogen of interest in present in a sample. 

The researchers are evaluating the potential for fully portable use that would allow field use in virtually any environment. They worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the technology in the United States and in Europe, and are looking for partners.  

Full details of the work appear in the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.

About the Author

BioOptics World Editors

We edited the content of this article, which was contributed by outside sources, to fit our style and substance requirements. (Editor’s Note: BioOptics World has folded as a brand and is now part of Laser Focus World, effective in 2022.)

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