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Cheaper antibody-based biosensor to detect marine pollutants faster

May 6, 2011 - Washington

Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) have developed a new biosensor, which detects marine pollutants, such as oil, cheaper and faster than current technology.

The biosensor uses antibody-based technology and can detect, track and guide the clean up of oil spills in rivers and sea.

The biosensor was tested in the Elizabeth River and Yorktown Creek which both drain into Virginia's Chesapeake Bay.

It clearly demonstrated the ability to process water samples in less than 10 minutes and detected pollutants at levels as low as just a few parts per billion.

In addition, the portable marvel carried out this sampling at a fraction of the cost of the expensive, slower, and laboratory-bound alternatives, which are currently available, while remaining just as accurate.

"Our biosensor combines the power of the immune system with the sensitivity of cutting-edge electronics," said Mike Unger of VIMS.

"It holds great promise for real-time detection and monitoring of oil spills and other releases of contaminants into the marine environment," he added.

"Our basic idea was to fuse two different kinds of technologies, monoclonal antibodies and electronic sensors, in order to detect contaminants," said Stephen Kaattari of VIMS.

The tests of the new biosensor have been published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.


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