Over 420,000 people die each year due to contaminated foodstuffs, with Salmonella identified as one of the key global causes. Yet conventional methods for the determination of Salmonella in food require several enrichment and subculture steps performed by trained staff at lab-based facilities, taking up to 5 days to obtain a result.
Lateral Flow Assays (LFAs) have emerged as a powerful alternative method for Salmonella testing because they are rapid, simple-to-use and amenable for Point-of-Need (PoN). However, current LFAs available in the market only provide binary (yes/no) or semiquantitative responses, lacking the rapidness and sensitivity required for food monitoring due to the limitations of the colorimetric transduction.
By the integration of paper-based electrical gas sensors (PEGS) as detectors into Lateral Flow Assays, NELLAFLOW will address the challenge of quantitative determination of Salmonella in food without the requirement of long enrichment steps. PEGS have already proven to be highly sensitive towards water-soluble gases determination. They exploit the intrinsic hygroscopic characteristics of cellulose paper and the changes in its ionic conductance in the presence of water-soluble gases. The incorporation of aptamers as biological recognition elements in the PEGS-LFA platform will improve the implementation of the prototype for on-site monitoring as they are low-cost, highly specific, and stable at room temperature. Through a multidisciplinary approach (biomolecular engineering, analytical chemistry, printed electronics, microbiology) NELLAFLOW will tackle a problem in the food industry with an innovative versatile technology that can be easily transferred to other application fields.
By combining academic and non-academic training, NELLAFLOW will broaden the Fellow expertise through new technical and management skills that will complement her previous experience while delivering high impact results and transfer of knowledge.
Fields of science
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