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UNS: COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: Nanoengineering biomimetic nanobrushes for pathogen sensing


<p>This research will develop a novel sensor device designed to detect foodborne pathogens. The researchers will stimuli-response material in combination with a specially developed biomolecule for detecting Listeria monocytogenes (pathogen present in foods). The proposed work is particularly important because we do not have antibodies (a molecule that recognizes the pathogen) that have high affinity for this particular pathogen.</p>

<p>The objective of this research is to develop biosensors which combine stimuli-responsive polymer nanobrushes and aptamers. Such an approach is expected to significantly improve the field of pathogen detection. The biosensor device will be evaluated on a broad range of criteria such as sensitivity, selectivity, and response time with appropriate controls. The intellectual merit of this proposal lies in combining the actuation of stimuli-responsive polymers with selective capture of bacteria by aptamers immobilized on the polymer surface for increasing selective capture and retention of target pathogens. The biomimetic approach proposed in this work is inspired by selective recruitment of symbiotic bacteria by ciliate actuation in the bobtail squid light organ, which is capable of capturing a specific target species from a solution with a complex microbial background and a wide range of particle sizes. When combined with nanomaterial-modified electrodes, it is anticipated to provide two distinct advantages; namely, enhanced capture of target bacteria due to lower non-specific binding, and enhanced limit of detection. Broader Impacts : A convenient, rapid, and sensitive biosensor for foodborne pathogens can have significant impact in food safety and medical diagnostics. This proposed research also serves as a unique opportunity for dissemination of engineering research to underrepresented population at the two collaborating institutions and will focus on food safety and nano-biosensing technologies. These activities will include at Texas A&M University: (i) demonstrating practical applications on detecting foodborne pathogens in the Expanding Your Horizon one-day camp ( reaches 70 sixth-grade girls per year), (ii) mentoring and hosting young women through the Women Explore Engineering summer camp; and (iii) hosting a high school teacher through Enrichment Experiences in Engineering program. At University of Florida activities will include (i) recruiting secondary science educator to participate in the research project through the Center for Precollegiate Education and Training (ii) developing online learning modules using animation software to teach biosensor concepts; and (iii) coordinating and hosting K-12 students through 4H Bioengineering summer camp</p>

Gomes, Carmen
Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station
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