Liquid crystal biosensor technology promises real-time pathogen detection

Published 2 March 2006

Tallmadge, Ohio-based Oringen and Boulder, Colorado-based Pathogen Detection Systems have licensed innovative technology developed at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine (NEOUCOM) and Kent State University to detect bioterrorism agents and pathogens in food and water. The liquid crystal biosensor technology was developed jointly by investigators at Kent State and NEOUCOM. The two companies have committed to bringing research and development, production, sales, and other jobs to Kent, Ohio, and surrounding areas, once the technology has been developed.

The liquid crystal biosensor technology holds the potential of radically changing the detection and identification of harmful pathogens. Current detection methods can take up to three days to identify disease-causing agents, but the new technology offers the promise of detection and identification within minutes. The researchers combined their expertise in liquid crystals and biomedical sciences to develop a device that can quickly detect harmful microbes such as anthrax or plague. Potential applications for this technology include environmental protection, homeland security, and medical diagnoses.

The biosensor works by placing antibodies into liquid crystals and then introducing microbes (bacteria or viruses that cause disease) which are attracted to these antibodies. The biosensor can be used to diagnose infectious diseases of all kinds, as well as bioterror agents. The research was funded in part through an $800,000 grant from DHS, a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and a Research Challenge grant from the Ohio Board of Regents. Both NEOUCOM and Kent State supported development of the liquid crystal biosensor, and combined resources for two pilot studies

-read more in this news release; see this October 2005 Physorg report; and see Pathogen Detection Web site