5 years ago



42 Besides the

42 Besides the quantitation, the particles can also serve as initiators of the signal transduction mechanism. In this function, changes of the relative location of the nanoparticles (e.g. aggregation of the particles as a result of the biomolecular interactions) lead to a change in the measurable signal. Nanoparticles also act as functional substrates. With the integration of different nanoparticles in one assay, multiplexing becomes possible allowing the analysis of more than one specific component. In this function additional fluorophores are needed to visualize the outcome of the reaction. A special and interesting subclass of nanoparticles are the magnetic nanoparticles, consisting of a metal or metallic oxide core, coated by a protecting shell layer. This layer is necessary to stabilize the particles but also serves as a biocompatible layer where the different biorecognition molecules can be efficiently immobilized. Magnetic particles are mainly used for separation and preconcentration purposes, although hybrid magnetic particles, combining sample manipulation and sensing properties are considered as very promising materials. Biosensor applications in the food industry As an example of an innovative biosensor technology, an optical biosensor for peanut allergen detection is presented. Studies of the World Allergy Organization indicate that approximately 5 to 6% of the total world population exhibit allergic reactions after intake of food. Clinical symptoms vary from mild to fatal reactions and also the sensitivity of an individual person is strongly variable. The only way to prevent allergic reactions is to avoid the intake of allergen contaminated food. As such, reliable product information is essential to protect those people. The detection of specific allergens is not straightforward because they are only present in limited amounts and they are masked by the complex food matrix. Because a good reputation is of vital importance in the food industry, a lot of companies are interested in sensitive and reliable detection technologies for food monitoring and accurate labelling purposes. Therefore an innovative optical biosensor combining antibody/aptamer technology with surface plasmon resonance technology, was developed at the MeBioS Biosensor group (K.U.Leuven) for the detection of peanut allergens in food (Pollet et al., 2009). A schematic representation of this biosensor is shown

in Figure 3. The biosensor couples the advantages of optical fibre technology to the use of aptamers as specific biorecognition elements. This biosensor allows fast, accurate and label-free screening of different food products with respect to the presence of food allergens. Figure 3. Schematic representation of the working principle of the fiber optic SPR sensor (A). The bioreceptormolecules are immobilized on the nanoplasmonic sensormodule, built around an optical silicafiber, coated with a thin (50 nm) gold layer. When allergens bind to the bioreceptors at the surface, the refraction index changes which is monitored by an optical detector. Nanoparticles are used for signal enhancement. Experimental set-up (B). Conclusion As a conclusion, we can state that recent developments in nanotechnology and bio-nanotechnology boost the development of new and innovative biosensor platforms, which can be applied for the quantification of a broad range of chemical components related to food quality and safety. The challenge now is to transfer the devices, from the research lab to the real world. Hereto, the integration of the biosensor concept in the so-called ‘lab-on-a-chip’ systems can be the first step to facilitate this transfer. The integration requires an interdisciplinary approach with expertise from nanotechnology, material physics, surface chemistry, microfluidics, molecular biochemistry and bio-engineering sciences. 43

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