Verónica Martins,

Center for Biological and Chemical Engineering (CEBQ) – IST


Microbial pathogen detection is of utmost importance for clinical diagnosis, food safety, water quality control and bioterrorism issues. Often is critical to have bacterial detection results as fast as possible in order to prevent public health issues or eliminate or minimize contamination.
Traditional methods, mostly based on plate counting, are slow, relatively expensive and are unable to provide high throughput screening.
A magnetoresistive biochip is being developed at INESC –MN and CEBQ-IST as a biosensor for pathogen detection. This system enables a very fast detection of bacteria by combining hard-disk read-head sensing and electronics with specific probes functionalised surfaces and functionalised magnetic nanoparticles.
The magnetoresistive biochip is well suited for pathogen detection when fast, accurate, sensitive and high-throughput responses are required, such as when determining the bacterial strain present in a lung infection; evaluating if a beef sample is free of Salmonella and is suitable for dispatching for consumption; to inquire for the presence of E. coli in drinking water and early detect the presence of bioterrorism agents like anthrax. In all these cases, time is a crucial factor and the earliest the detection is performed the sooner the effects of bacterial infection or contamination can be eliminated or minimized.
Although the magnetoresistive biosensor technology can be used with equal efficiency in pathogen detection in several fields, the first target for this system will be in water quality management for control and monitorization of microbial pathogens in water supplies for human consumption.


Date: 2006-Jan-17     Time: 14:00:00     Room: 336

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