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New technology could improve food safety, defend against bioterrorism

April 18, 2013 at 3:56 PM

COLUMBIA, Mo., April 18 (UPI) -- An improved detection method could improve food safety and also bolster defenses against bioterrorism, researchers at the University of Missouri reported.

A technique developed by a team headed by engineering Professor Shubhra Gangopadhya may make food contamination testing more rapid and accurate and also could accelerate warnings after bioterrorism attacks, a university release said Thursday.

"Quickly stopping the spread of toxins saves lives, whether those toxins are from natural processes or enemy attacks, post doctorate fellow Sangho Bok said. "Our technique uses nanoparticles to make detection one hundred times more sensitive than the standard method now used, known as ELISA.

"We have also reduced the time needed to detect a threat to only one hour, compared to four to six hours for ELISA."

Bok said the team's current testing of the technology focused on Clostriudium botulinum neurotoxin A, a toxin that causes food poisoning, but that engineers and biologists at the university are working to adapt the test to detect many other dangerous chemicals.

The Missouri study has been published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

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