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On-line industrial water quality analysis system for rapid and accurate detection of pathogens (AQUALITY)
Start date: Dec 1, 2011, End date: Mar 31, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Currently the identification and quantification of pollutants in water are mostly carried out manually through sampling and subsequent laboratory analysis (off-line analysis), with methodologies of work that involve some significant costs in terms of displacement to sampling points, reagents and specialized personnel dedicated to the operation, leading to time consuming and economically challenging approaches, causing the number of analyses performed to be kept at the bare minimum. The industry therefore is calling for novel, cost-effective solutions to meet these new challenges: we propose to develop an online water monitoring device for microbiological contamination analysis, that allows industries and environmental protection agencies to replace the routine activities of sampling and laboratory testing of pathogens. The new system, which will be produced in two versions, both for online and for offline measurements, will be able to real time monitor the quality of industrial process water and effluents basing on an opto-ultrasonic device and on a lipid-based diagnostic kit. The novelty of our approach is the use of engineered liposomes for detecting bacteria in water: these are nanoparticles formed by a lipid bilayer enclosing an aqueous compartment displaying features that can be different (pH, ionic strength, composition) with respect to the bulk. We will load liposomes with a chromophore and will engineer them in order to make them specifically react with one target bacteria; this is the simple operating system of the AQUALITY system, which is completed by an ultrasonic unit to concentrate bacteria and an optical unit for detecting the sample colour change following to the interaction between liposomes and bacteria."

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