News Medical: Aflatoxin detection in milk research, the SYMPHONY project, is completed

16 August, 2017 - 11:10

On 11 July 2017, Epigem celebrated the completion of its research into Aflatoxin detection in milk, as part of the EU-funded SYMPHONY project. At the same time, the company announced that it has filed a patent based on this work.

The industrial partners Epigem and Lionix developed novel microsystem solutions in the form of sample preparation using microfluidics (Epigem) integrated with detection using micro-optics (Lionix).  Further development of the analytical solutions and instrumentation created will benefit both animal welfare and food safety threatened by climate change.

Epigem has deployed its expertise in microfluidic technologies to provide a miniaturised device capable of sample handling, purification and concentration.

The project developed a number of options such as de-fatting which was as efficient as a centrifuge and enables animal tests times to reduce from hours to minutes, depending on sample size. This included a micro-fluidics solution from Epigem by numbering up multiple devices.

This was an essential first step in producing an instrument which analyses aflatoxin in milk quickly and efficiently at the dairy gate, the farm gate or the cow’s udder.

The next phase of the project for Epigem was to concentrate the toxin from the de-fatted milk by a factor of at least 50, trapping up to 30%, to enable detection levels better than 25 parts per trillion of aflatoxin.

The concentrator used a high surface area of material, packed into a small contained volume with the following properties;

  • The high surface area element did not severely restrict the flow of prepared sample or filter out particulates i.e. block under flow conditions.
  • The high surface element created a controlled pressure drop to force interaction of sample material with available surface area.
  • The material forming the element enabled trapping of the desired molecule (in this case Aflatoxin).
  • The trapped molecules were then released into a much lower volume, thereby leading to a much higher concentration.

The concentrate was then analysed at the University of Trento using Lionix BV optical detection technology. FBK, based in Italy, led the project and contributed to sensor development, surface biochemistry and microfluidics, while Acreo in Sweden provided expertise in the surface chemistry for trapping, and the testing of the concentrator.

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