16.01.2019 change 16.01.2019

Researcher from the University of Lodz designs microsensors for food testing

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Scientists from the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Lodz want to design microsensors that will detect biogenic amines (BA) in food products. Undesirably balanced, these natural substances necessary for the functioning of organisms have an adverse effect on human health.

The planned microplatforms are to be cheap and easy to obtain. They will be based on heat-shrinkable polymer films and serve as sensors for the detection of biogenic amines (BA) in food products, says project leader Konrad Piotr Rudnicki, PhD student at the Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry at the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Lodz.

He says that biogenic amines (BA) are natural ingredients present in the human and animal diet. These substances are necessary for the proper functioning of organisms and for many metabolic processes - they are involved in the synthesis of hormones, proteins, nucleic acids, as well as alkaloids. BA also participate in DNA replication, body thermoregulation, and have a significant impact on the processes of stabilizing blood pressure, brain activity and permeability of cell membranes.

But according to the scientist, despite many important functions, improperly balanced amount of BA in the human diet can lead to severe and long-lasting poisoning, dysfunction of processes related to the functioning of the body, and even cause the development of cancer.

In the description of his project, Rudnicki stresses that the increased content of amines in food products may be caused by excessive activity of endogenous enzymes, microbiological decarboxylation of neutral and alkaline amino acids occurring during spontaneous or controlled fermentation, reductive amination and transamination of aldehydes and ketones.

"In addition, factors that can affect excessive amounts of amines in food also include: improper storage, processing or distribution" - describes the young scientist.

The researcher reminds that in recent years a number of analytical methods have been developed to test BA content in food products. Chromatographic methods are among the most popular ones.

But in his opinion, chromatographic tests have a number of drawbacks, which include: high equipment costs, limited repeatability and reproducibility of the analysis results, high consumption of organic solvents.

According to the project leader, electrochemistry is an alternative or can complement these techniques. During electrochemical measurements, chemical information is directly converted into an electrical signal that reflects the amount and type of the test chemical. "The experiments themselves are cheap, fast and easy to perform, and when properly designed, they meet all analytical standards" - he adds.

Electrochemical techniques are very often successfully used as reliable tools in the quantitative analysis of drugs, pesticides, antibiotics and other substances. Electrochemistry of ITIES - Interface between Two Immiscible Electrolyte Solutions (oil - liquid, liquid - liquid) has found many applications in electroanalysis in recent years.

The emergence of new microsensors not only enabled electronic development, but also opened new horizons for medicine, chemistry and biology.

The project of Lodz researchers uses a combination of an unconventional electroanalytical system - based on electrochemistry of liquid-liquid interfaces - with new micro-processing methods. "The crucial step will be designing innovative microsensors based on heat-shrinkable films and their application as sensors for the determination of biogenic amines content in food products" - emphasises Konrad Piotr Rudnicki.

The project "Porous membranes based on polymer shrink films as modern sensors based on polarized liquid-liquid interfaces" will be carried out until 2022as part of the 15th Prelude Competition of the National Science Centre. The young scientist received PLN 210,000 grant for his research.

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