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Development of fast antibody-based screening tests for the detection of harmful mycotoxins in food and feed


The contamination of food and feed with harmful fungal derived mycotoxins is a problem worldwide and worsening. Over 400 different mycotoxins are now known, some of them have been studied in great detail, while the data about toxicity and occurrence for many others are scarce. This information is required to determine the risk in relation to animal and human health and establish maximum permitted levels that do not pose any health concerns. The fast elimination of contaminated food and feed from the supply chain is crucial for the protection of human and animal health as many of these toxins can cause serious diseases both after acute and chronic exposure. The occurrence data cannot be provided without fast and reliable detection methods that allow quantification of these toxic contaminants. This research, therefore, is focused on delivering new fast antibody-based (ELISA) screening methods for the detection of three important mycotoxins: T-2/HT-2, ochratoxin A and sterigmatocystin and on the development of a first multiplex flow-through rapid (FTR) test for the simultaneous detection of mycotoxins in food and feed. These tests could be used by food and feed producers, importers and testing laboratories to assure food and feed safety on the European market. The researcher will work for two years with the food safety company EuroProxima (EP) in the Netherlands that will provide training and support of the development of the commercial analytical assays. The project will be also supported by the partner organisations - Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and RIKILT Wageningen UR (RIKILT) who will be hosting secondment phases in order to facilitate the work packages. This project aims to combine academic excellence with specialist SME know-how to work on a project with significant impact on public health and that offers a substantial commercial opportunity.

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