Researchers in Wales have developed a device that lights up like a firefly when it detects the presence of food poisoning bacteria.
The Bioluminescent Assay in Real-Time (Bart), was developed jointly by Prof. Jim Murray of the School of Biosciences at Cardiff Univesity and Dr. Laurence Tisi of Lumora Ltd.
Bart detects specific DNA sequences of bacteria including pathogens such as E.coli. Listeria and Campylobacter by using a version of the enzyme luciferase, which also produces light in fireflies, to produce a light signal. When samples are placed inside the device, it will begin to glow within 10 to 60 minutes if it detects device the DNA of common foodborne illness pathogens.
This device allows users to test rapidly and simply for food poisoning bacteria, Professor Murray said in a statement. “The food industry has been looking for dependable, fast and convenient microbiological testing for a long time. Our system will allow workers to test a wide variety of foods in a simple system which uses the most sensitive molecular technology. Portable versions of the device mean that it’s now even possible to test farm animals in the food chain.
“We now want to apply BART technology to a range of other diseases. The most obvious and most pressing need is HIV-AIDS. Patients need to be continuously tested for their viral loads so that their treatment dosage can be adjusted. At the moment, this requires laboratory facilities which are in short supply in Africa. We hope to create a device which can be used easily in those countries.”