In the past decade, the development of biological ligands as alternative candidates to classical devices has enabled rapid advances in many analytical fields. The Research will focus on the development of a new generation of electrochemical biosensors for food safety and quality monitoring. The approach of the project will be oriented to test the performances of enzymes or antibodies versus new computationally-designed biomimetic ligands which work by mimicking the biological binding site. Choosing a ligand to achieve some desired structure is still largely a subject of trial and error. The key point of this research will be taking advantage of molecular modelling software to obtain candidates with the purpose of reducing by orders of magnitude the efforts to obtain specific receptors. The biological and biomimetic ligands will be coupled with electrochemical transducers that are known to give fast, reproducible and sensitive analytical responses often in real time. Disposable, screen-printed electrodes will be employed for electrochemical transduction. These new electrodes present some advantages i.e. advantage of low cost production, the possibility of employing brand new surfaces with each analyzed sample and the possibility to be coupled with portable devices performing very modern and sensitive electrochemical techniques. This approach is promising to produce inexpensive, biotechnological devices to be used in food safety and quality monitoring by combining the selectivity of biological or biomimetic ligands with the powerful properties of electrochemical techniques. All important analytical parameters i.e. reproducibility, sensitivity, selectivity, stability, etc, will be studied first using standards and, after optimization of the protocol, in real samples. As a model, typical food targets will be used such as xenobiotics.
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