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FP7

PINVIALEG — Result In Brief

Project ID: 262561
Funded under: FP7-SME

Portable device for legionella detection

Legionella is a group of pathogenic bacteria that is resistant to chlorination and responsible for diseases like Legionnaires' disease and Pontiac fever. Detection of Legionella is currently a time-consuming process, requiring culturing and taking up to 10 days in a laboratory setup.
Portable device for legionella detection
The EU-funded 'Portable microfluidic-based device for in situ detection of viable legionella' (PINVIALEG) project worked on developing a portable device based on a microfluidic chip to rapidly detect viable Legionella on site. The PINVIALEG consortium comprised members from several small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with requisite expertise for this purpose.

PINVIALEG achieved remarkable success in its endeavours. A microfluidic chip was designed and manufactured that collects magnetic bead-RNA complexes. The RNA is then isolated using nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA) along with nucleic acid lateral flow immunoassay (NALFIA).

Results indicate adequate quantitative and qualitative Legionella cell recovery from the micro-sieve for the microfluidic cartridges. Other important aspects such as software integration, pump, card-holder, timed mixing of reagents and probes with the main sample flow as well as optical detection were also addressed. The end result is an integrated laboratory-scale system weighing 11 kg with dimensions of 300 x 450 x 250 mm. Experiments revealed that Legionella detection was achieved with high sensitivity and specificity.

The NASBA assay has been optimised and researchers developed a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR)–NALFIA detection system that requires further validation. To assess environmental samples (e.g. hot water systems, refrigeration towers) for Legionella pneumophila, a magnetic-based RNA extraction and capture protocol has been fine-tuned for microfluidic chip application. Results have demonstrated high specificity for L. pneumophila with an RNA detection limit of 50–100 genome equivalents. L. pneumophila was chosen by researchers due to its high prevalence and disease outbreaks.

Project outcomes were highly successful and several participating SMEs benefited from this collaboration by manufacturing products that could be used in either stand-alone or combined applications. These products would be adaptable for use in different setups, including hospitals, health care units, residences and food-production units. Besides Legionella detection, these systems could also be adapted for other applications such as detection of pathogens.

Ultimately, commercialisation of these user-friendly innovative devices will cost-effectively facilitate on-site detection of Legionella pathogens in only a few hours. This has important implications for our health and safety as well as the European economy.

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