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Aptamer-based Lab on chip for the rapid detection of food-borne pathogens

1st August 2018

Scientists from the Technical University of Denmark, led by Krishna Kant have published a new review in Biotechnology Advances including  aptamer-based approaches  for the rapid detection of food-borne pathogens.

Food borne diseases, caused by the consumption of foods contaminated with pathogens or their toxins, are one of the major burdens to public health, causing a significant impediment to socioeconomic development worldwide. (Newman et al., 2015) Rapid detection of food borne pathogens at an early stage is imperative for preventing the outbreak of food borne diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 600 million illnesses and 420,000 deaths in 2010 were attributed to diseases associated with various pathogens in food products (WHO, 2015).

Conventional bacterial culturing methods for foodborne pathogen detection are time consuming, laborious, and have poor pathogen diagnosis competences. This has prompted researchers to call the current status of detection approaches into question and leverage new technologies for superior pathogen sensing outcomes. Novel strategies mainly rely on incorporating all the steps from sample preparation to detection in miniaturized devices for online monitoring of pathogens with high accuracy and sensitivity in a time-saving and cost effective manner. Lab on chip is a blooming area in diagnosis, which exploits different mechanical and biological techniques to detect very low concentrations of pathogens in food samples.

In the past decades, researchers have extensively focused on aptamers as alternative promising bio-recognition ligands in food analysis, particularly through their integration into microfluidic sensors for multi-analytes detection of very complex food samples. Aptamers have a  number of remarkable advantages, such as feasibility of commercial scale up, storage stability, affinity retention and the ability to differentiate between structurally similar analytes are reported as advantages that offer great potentials for pathogen and biomolecular screening (Torres-Chavolla and Alocilja, 2009) Aptamers can easily be modified at their 5` or 3` terminus with thiols, amines or epoxy groups to facilitate their immobilization in a microfluidic chamber. A proof-of-concept study using aptamers immobilized on a Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance (LSPR)-based sensor was done to detect and identify different bacterial species. In this system, the thiolated aptamers were immobilized on a multi-spot gold-capped nano particle array (MG-NPA) chip to recognize and capture Lactobacillus acidophilus, S. typhimurium, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. (Yoo et al., 2015)

Aptamer Group has experience selecting aptamers in complex food samples like milk, developing immobilization strategies for a variety of biosensor platforms, and working with pathogens to develop aptamer detection solutions for our commercial customers. Get in touch to find out how we can help with your aptamer development.


Newman, K.L., Leon, J.S., Rebolledo, P.A., Scallan, E., 2015. The impact of socioeconomic status on foodborne illness in high-income countries: a systematic review. Epidemiol. Infect. 143, 2473–85.

WHO, 2015. WHO estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases, WHO.

Torres-Chavolla, E., Alocilja, E.C., 2009. Aptasensors for detection of microbial and viral pathogens. Biosens. Bioelectron. 24, 3175–3182.

Yoo, S.M., Kim, D.-K., Lee, S.Y., 2015. Aptamer-functionalized localized surface plasmon resonance sensor for the multiplexed detection of different bacterial species. Talanta 132, 112–7.

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