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PARTNERSHIP: Development and evaluation of low-cost, easily deployable molecularly imprinted polymer nanoparticles for agricultural viruses and toxins of concern


This projectseeks to develop and evaluate the potential of molecularly imprinted polymer nanoparticles (NanoMIPs) to serve as recognition elements for food and agricultural contaminants. We have chosen two targets of serious relevance to foodborne contamination, norovirus and mycotoxins that also serve as model targets in that they both are of smaller size, have a diversity of structures, and are more predominantly found in different food matrices. Further, the project will integrate these nanoMIPs into inexpensive, portable electrochemical sensors. We additionally hope to evaluate the degree to which nanoMIPs and nanoMIP sensors generated against these targets are able to withstand crudely processed food samples containing target contaminants, as well as the degree to which these sensors are capable of discriminating different variants/strains of noroviruses and mycotoxins. Additionally, the ability of the nanoMIP sensors to stand up to harsher field conditions will be evaluated. The project aims to result in a number (at least 4) of publications as well as posters and scientific presentations as a result of this work.One of the other major goals of the project is to establish a partnership between the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Newcastle University. The project will include an exchange where PI and selected students/postdoc will conduct an exchange that will involve guest seminars/networking for future collaboration by the PIs with each other's respective institutions, as well as an expertise exchange between labs from the two institutions. The Moore lab (UMass) has expertise in applied microbiology, virology, and detection of pathogens in food and agricultural samples. The Peeters lab (Newcastle) has expertise in nanoMIP development, biosensor fabrication, and electrochemical sensing evaluation. The Gibbons lab (UMass) has expertise in fungal pathogens and their toxins. Students/postdocs from these two labs will spend at least one week in each other's' labs learning the techniques of each other's' labs. The Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst is a global leader in food science, recently ranked first in the U.S. and second in the world in food science by U.S. News & World Report. Newcastle University is a noted global leader in electrochemical sensing and sensor engineering. Built in seminar and faculty meetings that will coincide with the visit will further promote collaboration. An additional goal of the project is to utilize what is learned from the evaluation of the nanoMIP technology into intellectual property and potential future devices for the agricultural market, as the devices themselves are anticipated to be inexpensive enough to be realistically utilized by the food production industry.The specific objectives of this project are:Objective 1. Development and evaluation of molecularly imprinted polymer nanoparticles (nanoMIPs) for detection of noroviruses and integration into an inexpensive electrochemical sensor.Objective 2. Development and evaluation of molecularly imprinted polymer nanoparticles for the detection of mycotoxins and integration into an inexpensive electrochemical sensor.Objective 3. Evaluation of the ability of electrochemical nanoMIP sensors to withstand common inhibitory substances as well as performance in crudely processed, real food samples in in-field conditions.

Moore, Matthew
University of Massachusetts
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