Lab-on-chip for environmental testing

Integrated portable device for high sensitivity biological or chemical detection of toxic compounds in water sample based on planar optical waveguide sensors. The device can be used in two versions depending on immuno assay protocol:

  1. continuous flow detection for on-site water monitoring
  2. one-shot detection process for pollution measurement on the point of needs.

Relevance of the technology

Continuous flow detection of biological toxic compound like toxins is not available at the moment on the market or even in development in R&D laboratory. For the monitoring of water bathing, it’s a real need and an important challenge to give information in real time of the danger of swimming for example, due to the appearance of toxin produced by some bacterias.

On the other end pollution control requires sometime to measure low concentration of residual small molecules due human activity in water resource sample as drugs, pesticides, hormones… In this case one shot measurement in several points requires a portable device to analyse water sample.

Exemplary applications

It is clearly important to bridge the gap between water quality and health in the framework of the European Water Framework Directive in accordance with article 11 – Programme of measures & article 13 – River basin management plans by identifying health risk for different type of pollution and population features and monitor and model infected populations in order to evaluate disease propagation.

First application for continuous flow detection:

The objective is to develop a new tool to detect cyanobacteria bloom appearance and distribution, to identify cyanobactaria toxin appearance risk and early warning indicators and link those datas to health risks.

In Europe we can give three examples of problem of cyanobacteria appearance:

  1. The Villerest Lake is one of the many hydraulic works build on the Loire river. It is eutrophic, due to excessive amounts of phosphorus, leading to eutrophication and proliferations of potentially toxic cyanobacteria (Microcystis aeruginos). These blooms have an important economic cost due to their impact on the recreational activities and thus on tourist industry.
  2. Constance Lake is an oligotrophic natural lake, located between Germany and Switzerland. Due to a reduction in the nutrient and phosphorus load, algal blooms are not a hazard at the moment. From the drinking water point of view water suppliers are more concern with diffuse pollutions at the moment.  In less than 30 years, as Germany's Lake Constance suffered environmental degradation from phosphorus pollution
  3. The Oder Lagoon at the German and Polish border is the final part of the Oder/Odra river estuary. It is an outstanding example to show the interrelations between river basin and coast and to prove the dependency of coastal management on river basin management. The River and its tributary carry large pollutant loads. Heavy metals, pathogenic bacteria and viruses are the most present health hazards in the lagoon water. As tourism is the main source of income of the coastal region water quality is of primary importance for local authorities.

First application for one shot detection: Detection of 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2) in water sample.

EE2 is a synthetic hormone, which is a derivative of the natural hormone estradiol. EE2 is an orally bio-active estrogen used in almost all modern formulations of combined oral contraceptive pills and is one of the most   commonly used medications. It has a relatively high octanol-water partitioning coefficient which causes it to be persistent and preferentially attach to the organic matter in the aquatic environment; Endocrine disrupting substances such as EE2, have the potential to adversely affect the sensitive hormone pathways that regulate reproductive functions.  In aquatic organisms, for example, the adverse effects may be expressed in terms of reduced fertility and egg production in female fish or reduced gonad size and feminization of male fish.  Exposure to EE2 may also result in a variety of other effects that include: induced production of vitellogenin in male fish, changes in the sex ratio of progeny, and alterations in gene expressions.

State of the art

For continuous flow detection of biological toxic compound like toxins there is no available device at the moment on the market or even in development in R&D laboratory.

Concerning one-shot detection the reference method is the ELISA test. with a sensitivity of 20 pg/ml and a time to result of 90 mn. For ML2 project our technology is able to achieve a sensitivity of 30 pg/ml but with a time to result of only few mn.(2 to 5mn).

Benefit of the ML² lab-on-chip in comparison to state of the art solutions

Based on our proposal demonstrators benefit of ML2 can be listed:

  1. A first continuous flow monitoring device for on-site control of water sample
  2. A very fast time to result portable and on-site sensors
  3. Due to integration of optical sources on the chip, the instrument will be simplified (more compact, low weight, low cost, possibility to have several sources on chip for multiparametric detection)
  4. A high sensitivity detection limit which can be optimized
  5. Market opportunity: a lot of potential applications (detection of Aflatoxin B in wheat – wash water of wheat -, Staphylococcus Aureus EnteroToxin B, Botulinum neurotoxins B, pesticides…)

MultiLayer MicroLab