As the routine analysis of pesticides and antibiotic residues in food, soil and water is expensive and labour intensive there is an urgent need for rapid and sensitive methods that have high impact on commercial competitiveness and exploitation possibilities of industries in the European Communities. Driven by this need major efforts have been initiated for the development of immunochemical methods for these applications.
This research project aims at the development of screening systems consisting of rapid immunochemical test methods, simple sol particle immunoassay (SPIAs) and more; sophisticated immunobiosensors, to monitor pesticide and antibiotic residues in food and food products. This specific combination of test methods ensures the possibility to monitor residues throughout the production chain, irrespective of the skills of the person performing the test and also irrespective of the level of laboratory equipment available.
Specific poly- and monoclonal antibodies will be raised against six organophosphorus pesticides and against the group of B-lactam antibiotics. In addition, generic antibody preparations, raised for example by immunisation with a chemical structure common to all members of a particular pesticide or antibiotic group, will be developed. In this respect, an important part of the project is the development of single-chain variable region recombinant antibodies, of which specificity and/or affinity can be manipulated by molecular biological techniques. The manipulation of specific, recombinant antibody fragments will be guided by molecular modelling of the binding sites to predict relevant amino acid changes in view of the binding specificity/affinity adaptation required. The application of these flexible antibody fragments in rapid diagnostic test methods will be highly innovative.
After validation of the tests methods for the target residues the methods will be evaluated by enterprises commercially or legally involved in monitoring these contaminants in food. A primary aim is to monitor in the context of examination for compliance with existing and predicted EU legislation on Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) in cereals and on MRLs in milk and milk products. The user-friendliness of the methods to be developed will be a major issue in the project. The threshold to apply the methods has to be low by keeping the apparatus simple and fast, while guaranteeing optimal sensitivity and accuracy. In addition, both SPIAs and immunobiosensors can be performed in a multi-analyte test format, giving the opportunity to determine various pesticide and/or antibiotic residues or groups of residues in one assay. In the course of the project the applicability of the test methods developed will settings.
The screening systems, developed in this project, can be used in two vital area's of European industry : cereal and dairy processing. In addition, the basic concept of the screening system can easily be transferred to othercontaminant/product combinations in the food field and also to the human and veterinary diagnostics fields.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
NR4 7UA Norwich
DUBLIN 9 Glasnevin