Multiple on-chip tests for food security: VaxChip
Over het Project
In food security, produced vaccines in poultry need to be tested carefully, in order to confirm the right concentrations of viruses and bacteria. Also, the ‘purity’ is crucial, not allowing adventitious agents possibly harming the effectiveness or safety of the vaccines.
‘These are the main challenges we strive to solve in our Rocket project,’ says Dr. Han Zendman, representing Nijmegen based company NYtor. ‘Together with Lionix (Enschede) and Vaxxinova (Münster) we want to develop an innovative molecular diagnostic tool able to perform multiple tests, detecting an array of pathogens in just one go. Our patented molecular beacon technology – developed and made ready for application by founder Jacqueline Vet – lies at the basis of this approach.’
IN THE FIELD
The novel detection tool might be used as a diagnostic tool as well, by veterinarians in the field, screening the presence of a large number of pathogens, be it viruses or bacteria, also preferably in one go.
‘Our microarray chip technology is an enabler of this novel detection technology,’ says Dr. René Heideman of Lionix. ‘Here, various probes can be coupled to our selectively functionalized and prefabricated TriPleX platform. The detection of genetic material is highly sensitive, using integrated optics (interferometry) on-chip. We have two detection routes at our disposal: either using fluorescent based detection or subtle mass changes, when minute DNA sequences are caught in by the pathogen-specific probes.’
Heideman is optimistic regarding mass production fabrication costs of these specialized nanochips, thus contributing to affordable future food security tests.
‘In our lab we now experiment successfully with micrometer sized ring-resonator sensors,’ he says. ‘Production technology in silicon is widely available to us, to downsize the chips several tens or even hundreds of times in mass production batches in later stages. Then, real disposable test platforms come within reach. They can be used on the spot in devices, not in need of first cultivating steps elsewhere.’
This summer NYtor, Vaxxinova and Lionix are performing feasibility tests. ‘We work on in-process testing, using the pathogens of our third partner: Vaxxinova. This company already marketed several innovative vaccines,’ says Zendman. ‘We are happy the three collaborative companies are located in close vicinity.’
Zendman hopes the analysis methods prove robust. ‘That is, in an egg environment,’ he clarifies. ‘By then we have gained enough confidence in order to bring this feasibility project towards a full innovative project.’
In the EU 1.7 billion broiler chickens and 41 million layer chickens per year are in need of careful monitoring for food safety reasons. Zendman: ‘The VaxChip can contribute to this in many ways, also improving animal welfare as we believe the use of animals for vaccine release can be reduced in the near future.’