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Biosensor for the prevention of diseases associated with air-conditioning systems

The aim of this project is the development of a biosensor for the rapid detection of the Aspergillus fungus. This new biosensor enables the prevention of allergies and associated infections involving air-conditioning systems, common in institutional and company buildings.

The companies GIROA S.A (project leader), GUREAK ELEKTRONIKA, IKERLAT POLYMERS S.L. and NORAY BIOINFORMATICS, S.L. together with the GAIKER and CEIT Technological Centres, are to develop this research project within the ambit of the INTEK-03 Programme of the Basque Government. The Aspergillus fungus,The Aspergillus fungus, found all over the planet, produces large quantities of spores which habitually are inhaled without producing illnesses. Nevertheless, they can produce allergies, asthma or lung infections in persons with a weakened immunological system. In fact, invasive Aspergilosis is a mortal pathology in a high percentage of cases., ,Thus, detecting the presence of this fungus in order to guarantee the quality of interior air, is a way of preventing such illnesses. Although specific regulations to control the presence of Aspergillus have yet to be approved, there is a widespread belief, both in the Basque Health Service, OSAKIDETZA, and its Spanish counterpart, INSALUD, in the need to to carry out periodic environmental microbiological controls in buildings which house a large number of people with weakened immunological systems such as, for example, clinics and hospitals. Current methods of detection involve cell cultures requiring several days and qualified personnel. The development of a new, rapid and simple method for the detection of Aspergillus, therefore, would prove an extremely useful tool in prevention. With this in mind, the aim of designing and developing a system which, apart from being quick, may be used by non-qualified personnel, has brought together the most advanced Technological Centres and enterprises in the field of biotechnology in the Basque Country. Immunological techniques will be employed which will use polymeric particles for the development of bioreceptors, micro- and optometry for the development of detectors, the fitting of electronic equipment and computer design, all aimed at achieving a sufficiently compact, simple and user-friendly to be used with air-conditioning systems. To this end, each one of the participants will provide their knowledge and experience of the different fields creating a synergy to enable multidisciplinary development as a team.,