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Sbir Phase I: Fret-Aptamer Tests For Treated Wastewater

Bruno, John
Operational Technologies Corporation
Start date
End date

This Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I project proposes to further develop its one-step fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-DNA aptamer technology for the rapid (assay results within minutes of sampling), sensitive, on-site detection of fecal bacteria in treated water supplies. Operational Technologies Corporation (OpTech) previously demonstrated successful development of FRET-aptamers that bind common core antigens of surface molecules from various strains of E. coli and used the preliminary family of FRET-aptamers to detect as few as 10 bacteria per milliliter in water samples with a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS)handheld and battery-operated fluorescence sensor. The technology was in development to satisfy stringent requirements of the federal Beaches Act, but is now proposed as a broader solution for safety verification of treated wastewater. In order to meet this new requirement, OpTech will add a fluorescence viability test for the handheld reader and compare to standard Colilert fluorescence test results. In Phase II, OpTech will expand its repertoire of tests to include other enteric bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
The broader impacts of this research are:

  1. enhanced drinking water safety for the public
  2. better on-site decision making ability for wastewater treatment facilities to decide if treated effluents are suitable for drinking, irrigation, or release back into the environment,
  3. faster decision making ability at recreational waters (oceans, lakes, even swimming pools) with regard to potential closings to prevent human exposure to fecal contamination.

FRET-aptamer technology also has applications in rapid and portable food safety testing, homeland security, and clinical point-of-care diagnostics.
Funding Source
United States Nat'l. Science Fndn.
Project number
Bacterial Pathogens
Natural Toxins
Escherichia coli