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Novel Methods for Detection of Clostridium botulinum and Botulinum Neurotoxin in Complex Food Matrices

Award No.: 
Principal Investigator: 
Eric Johnson
PI Organization: 
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) is the most potent biological agent known. It poses a major bioweapon and bioterrorism threat, especially in the food chain, such as in milk, juice (e.g., carrot and orange juice), various low acid foods, and water. Although much effort has been spent on approaches for detection of BoNT, sensors for the detection/screening in early contamination stages and suitable for in-field testing (thus portable instruments or devices) are still urgently sought. The overall goal of our project is to develop improved methods of agent detection/screening. The long-term aim is to develop a panel system capable of multiple agent detection/screening. We will develop a microfluidic system integrating DNA extraction that leads to high quality DNA for amplification and screening, also high sensitive cell based assay for detecting toxin. We also will develop novel, highly sensitive, microsensors of BoNTs based on PCs and BoNT responsive hydrogels. At later stage of the project, we will apply these two complementary technologies to the detection of a wider variety of pathogens in food matrices, including neurotoxins and cells.
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