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Water Today Title November 25, 2017

New paper strip test detects E. coli quickly, cheaply and simply
Interview with Dr. John D. Brennan Canada Research Chair in Bioanalytical Chemistry Department of Chemistry McMaster University - 5/1/12


Researchers at McMaster University have developed a paper strip test that is cheap to produce, extremely portable, simple to use, and detects E. coli in water in 30 minutes. While many popular recreational waters are regularly tested for coliform outbreaks, the methods used are generally slow and cumbersome, with samples often having to be sent to a lab for amplification before testing. The new paper strips developed at McMaster overcome all these problems. They work quickly, they are portable, they are simple to use, and they are cheap and easy to produce. Water Today sent Dr. John Brennan a series of questions, the Q&A is available below.


Q&A
Water Today
this is a very neat invention,how did you come up with it?

John Brennan
As part of the Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network, we have been working on bioactive test strips for a number of years, and have already produced test strips for organophosphate pesticides and heavy metals. A major goal of ours was to produce strips that would allow for testing of pathogenic bacteria in water and food. As a first step toward this goal, we made use of two well known enzymes that are markers of total coliforms (beta-galactosidase) and fecal coliforms (beta-glucoronidase). We print colorimetric reagents onto the strip using a basic inkjet printer, along with other agents that intensify the colour, and when the bacteria are present the enzymes within the bacteria convert the yellow reagent to a purple product that we can detect visually.



Water Today
concerning the strip itself any draw backs that you know of?

John Brennan
At this point the strips are sufficiently sensitive to allow detection of bacterial in swimming water with minimal sample preparation. However, to reach the level needed for drinking water, which is detection of 1 bacterial cell in 100 mL of water, we still require an enrichment step involving growth of bacteria by culturing. The test strips are also unable to discriminate between different forms of E. coli, and thus we need to use a special immunomagnetic separation step prior to doing the test if we want to determine the strain of E. coli.



Water Today
where was this invented?

John Brennan
The test strips were developed in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster University by a team of students and postdoctoral fellows working in my research group.



Water Today
if people count on this strip for ecoli notice, is this a good idea?

John Brennan
Not yet. There is further development to be done, and extensive validation is needed as part of obtaining regulatory approval. We currently have funding from NSERC through an Idea to Innovation Grant to work on methods to scale up production of the test strips and have external validation done by a number of national and international labs, including both academic and industrial labs.

Water Today
should people be able to make this themselves?

John Brennan
Possibly. We've had discussions about whether it may be useful to have these strips produced at or near the site of use. This could be particularly valuable in resource limited regions, where shipping and storage of strips may be problematic. and blue-green algae that are the result of cumulative effects.

Water Today
i want to use this when i go camping,any idea when it's out?

John Brennan
If all goes well, we hope to have strips available in 2-3 years. There are several steps still be to done, including improvement of strip performance and obtaining regulatory approval, that will take time.

Water Today
it's a very simple neat idea, where do you go from here? anything next?

John Brennan
We are moving in two key directions. On the one hand, we're expanding our work on new test strips for testing different species in water and food, including a range of pesticides and different pathogenic bacteria. On the other hand, we're starting to collaborate with clinicians and physicians to develop test strips for clinically relevant analytes.


Water Today
how many offers to invest and partner have you had so far?

John Brennan
The Sentinel network has a number of industrial partners who have interest in the test strips, and we're also working several companies who are helping us with validation studies. We have not yet had formal investment offers, but it still early days.







































































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