Biosensor Technology for Water Industry Toxicity Testing

Technology Overview

TOXOR is a biosensor concept involving the integration of living cells and electrode-based sensors to monitor electronically the well-being of the cells on exposure to chemicals and toxic agents. It paves the way for a miniaturised chemical toxicity analyser with a capacity to perform a toxicity assessment on water samples without the intervention of laboratory equipment. This project is an EI Commercialisation Fund collaboration between MiCRA and the TEC Gateway (Based in the Nimbus Centre, Cork Institute of Technology).

The device will measure cytotoxic effects towards biological cells of environmental and industrial toxins. In one potential application in the fish/shell-fish farming industry, water-borne toxins are acquired in culturing tanks over a period of time and result in slow growth of stock and production wastage. The method is unique in that it relies on living cells incorporated into the biosensor chip. The biosensor detects and quantifies changes in the metabolic state of cells by monitoring their cellular enzymes. High-value and selective toxicity information can therefore be acquired. In field use TOXOR will record sampling time and location in addition to toxicity data, and utilise wireless and database technologies to assist in follow-up and remedial action.