The Technical University of Denmark and integrated lab-on-chip producer Ilochip are co-developing a biochip to rapidly detect the airborne presence of specific pathogens such as bird flu and foot and mouth disease, as well as Campylobacter.
Ilochip's technology reportedly has the potential to do in about half an hour what conventional laboratory analysis currently takes several days and considerable resources to accomplish. Support for the project is being provided by the High Technology fund, which is providing around DKK 10 m (USD 1.8 m) over a three year period.
The biochip is designed to be installed directly in livestock housing units. Air is drawn over the chip, which uses static electricity to entrap airborne microorganisms. These are then broken down and the DNA extracted, analysed for DNA sequences specific to pathogens, and amplified for measurement using PCR* techniques.
In principle, the entrapment of a single airborne bacterium or virus particle can be enough to enable the biochip to make a positive identification. In this event, the chip is programmed to raise the alarm via a wireless radio signal. The news was reported in Ingeniøren (The Engineer).
Ilochip is the new name for Thomsen Bioscience, which was founded on 1st September 2001 – just one week before 9/11 – with the aim of developing a biological warfare detection device based on intelligent biochips. The company is based in Norresundby in north Jutland.
*Polymerase Chain Reaction - Ed.