MicroAqua: a 12 party consortium drives the development of a microarray for a rapid, inexpensive and efficient testing for waterborne pathogens
Scienion technology used for multiparameter testing to enable biohazard detection in water
µAQUA is the acronym for the EU research project "Universal microarrays for the evaluation of fresh-water quality based on detection of pathogens and their toxins" which has been funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission since 2011. Its overall goal is to develop efficient, sensitive, robust, rapid and inexpensive aquatic biosensors to monitor various aspects of water quality as part of the strategy for control and prevention of diseases caused by waterborne pathogens and algal toxins. μAQUA aims to design and develop a universal microarray chip for the high-throughput detection in water of known and emerging pathogens (bacteria, viruses, protozoa and cyanobacteria) and to assess the water quality by monitoring the presence of select bioindicators (diatoms). The present chip prototype allows for simultaneous testing of almost 50 organisms. These organisms include pathogens that are considered to be potentially most dangerous for human health and represent the standard pathogens whose presence is tested by all national water authorities in Europe. Additionally the chip can detect several diatom algal species that are known to react rapidly and sensitively to water quality changes and are used universally as biomarkers for water quality assessment. 12 partners from eight countries are committed to the project, with Claudio Gualerzi from the University of Camerino, Italy, being the coordinator of this ambitious enterprise. The original EU application was significantly driven by Linda Medlin from the Observatoire Océanologique de Banyuls Sur Mer, a pioneer in using PCR for phylogenetic analysis.
SCIENION plays a key role in this project. The company has been developing the actual microarrays and provides the infrastructure and expertise for the production of the arrays and their analysis. Whereas capture probe design was performed by other partners, SCIENION has been involved in their adaption and microarray specificity testing. The DNA microchip contains an array of oligonucleotides immobilized on SCIENION's sciCHIP EPOXY glass slides. At SCIENION's site in Berlin, the complete workflow of the microarrays analysis has been performed and includes fluorescent labeling of the target nucleic acids, hybridization to the DNA chip, detection and data evaluation. SCIENION has also headed the development work of suitable buffer systems for sample printing, optimization of DNA concentrations and immobilization conditions. At present, the universal microchip is subject to validation using a range of environmental samples collected throughout Europe by various partners.
For more information see http://microaqua.eu/
Dr. Holger Eickhoff, CEO of SCIENION AG, states: "Surface water is a vitally important resource and we need reliable and affordable tools to monitor its quality, especially for the detection of potential health hazards caused by waterborne pathogens. However, traditional methods currently used for monitoring water quality and to detect potential biohazards present several limitations: 1. highly qualified workforce skilled in microbiology, virology and taxonomy is required. 2. current methods are not able to yield rapid information and 3. there are no tools that allow an integrated monitoring and evaluation of all different biological parameters. We are very pleased to contribute to the success of the MicroAqua project, which utilizes modern microarray technology in an interdisciplinary approach to overcome these limitations. Our universal microarray chip can greatly enhance speed and accuracy by which species and biomolecules can be identified. Ultimately, the results of this project will allow not only the early detection of health hazards. In addition they will also contribute to evaluate the effectiveness of possible measures taken, and to the formulation of knowledge-based proposals for actions capable of mitigating health threats posed by waterborne pathogenic and toxigenic organisms. Our goal is the production of commercial universal chips for the detection of target organisms and toxins to be adopted by European water authorities and by the water production industry."
Register now for the next SCIENION Workshop "DIAGNOSTICS 3.0", September 12-13, 2013; Berlin, Germany. The agenda is available at www.scienion.com.
SCIENION AG and its US subsidiary SCIENION US, Inc. provide systems and services for the contact-free printing of biological and chemical agents for diagnostics, pharmaceutics, veterinary, plant and food analytics and research. Addressing the dynamically increasing needs for miniaturization and multiplex analyses, SCIENION offers a unique technology portfolio that has been continuously expanded over one decade. SCIENION provides flexible solutions for research and development whereas solutions for production purposes are rather customized. Systems and software are characterized by their versatility, precision and robustness. The company is renowned specialist for ultra low volume liquid handling, particularly for the handling of precious and sensitive compounds of biological or chemical origin. SCIENION's dispensers allow for contact-free and precise drop spotting in the pico- to micro-liter range and are optimally suited for microarray based analytics - such as for tests with DNA, oligonucleotides, peptides, proteins, antibodies, glycans or for dispensing cells onto various substrates. The company operates from two sites in Germany, Dortmund and Berlin, and has a subsidiary in New Jersey, USA.
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