In Silico Design of Peptide-Based Biosensors
The technology consists in the computational design of peptides employed for the detection of contaminants for the food industry.
The technique proposed is a computational protocol for the in-silico design of peptides which can be employed as probes in biosensors for the detection of small molecules, such as contaminants, additives, drugs, or allergens in the food and cosmetics industries. The technology has then the potential to offer a cheap alternative for the quality control of the final product in many industries. Besides food safety and cosmetics, other possible applications fields are biomedical and environmental.
Common analysis techniques employed in laboratories for the research of contaminants are expensive and time consuming. Peptides as binders have numerous advantages, such as the fast and low-cost synthesis, and a high stability. Moreover, their computational design can optimize their binding properties to the target molecules in any solvent environment, addressing the current limitations in the standard approaches.
Stage of development
The technology has been validated in the laboratory for the detection of four different anticancer drugs. The same technology was also used to develop an electrochemical sensor capable of detecting phenolic compounds, like those present in coffee and olive oil.
Challenge and needs
The global food supply is increasing every year due to rising population and for that reason the need to strengthen food safety testing systems throughout the globe becomes more prominent. Biosensors are currently used across the food industry for their potential to allow real-time detection of food contamination and the technology proposed could be a promising analytical method for this industry segment. The main challenges are related to the lack of institutional coordination, harmonization of food safety standards, technical skills and the high cost of equipment, that inhibit the market for food testing.
The technology is not yet protected by a patent.
Potential markets and targets
The proposed technology is specifically directed to the market segment of rapid tests for food safety. The global food safety testing market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7.7% from 2018 to reach USD 24.59 billion by 2023. The growth in the food safety testing market is attributed to the worldwide increase in the number of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, implementation of stringent food safety regulations, and globalization of food supply. Biosensor devices have emerged as relevant diagnostic techniques in the food industry due to their specificity, ease of mass fabrication, economics, and field applicability, as well as their capability to provide quick results. The global biosensors market for food & beverages is projected to reach USD 2,389.6 million by 2024; it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.09% during the forecasted period (2018 -2024).
Potential partners in this activity are SMEs engaged in the development of sensors in the agri-food and biomedical field. Joint activity may involve peptide design and implementation (as well as its operational validation) for the recognition of a specific molecule proposed by the Industrial Partner.