A New Nano Based Real-Time Aflatoxin Detector Phase II

Period of Performance: 01/01/2009 - 12/31/2009


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Sensor Development Corporation
22500 LAKE RD STE 801 Array
Rocky River, OH 44116
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Aflatoxin was discovered in groundnut meal which killed over 10,000 turkeys in England. Poultry are extremely sensitive to aflatoxin B1 with turkeys being more sensitive than chickens. Later research discovered that poultry are the most susceptible food animal species to the toxic effects of aflatoxin. Based on epidemiological data and knowledge of liver biochemistry it is suggested that humans fall somewhere in the middle of this lethality range. Lethality in humans has also been documented. In 1974, nearly 10 per cent of 1,000 patients died from suspected acute aflatoxin poisoning. Aflatoxicosis outbreaks (2004) in eastern Kenya resulted in 317 cases and 125 deaths. Specific medical implications of aflatoxin are related to their carcinogenic properties. Aflatoxin is listed as a Group I carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is has been demonstrated in animal species to be the most potent liver carcinogen known, and is implicated as a cause of human primary heptatocellular carcinoma. This form of cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in China, Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia and causes at least 250,000 deaths annually worldwide, especially in developing countries. The human body also metabolizes aflatoxin to several compounds including aflatoxin M1 which is secreted in both mother?s milk and urine. Studies in Africa confirm infant exposure to aflatoxin via mother?s milk as well as the ability of aflatoxin in blood to cross the human placenta. Approximately 4.5 billion people around the world are exposed to virtually unregulated amounts of the toxin on a daily basis. The substance is so toxic that it is one of 19 contaminants along with mercury and DDT for which the US Food and Drug Administration imposes strict tolerance levels with only trace amounts allowed. In addition to the health impact of detecting the mycotoxins early, there is a significant economic impact. The Midwest drought in 2005 triggered an outbreak of poisonous aflatoxin at thousands of corn farms, spurring regulators and food companies to greatly expand testing of grain and milk. During the last US drought, many dairies were forced to dump aflatoxin-contaminated milk from cows fed corn contaminated with this toxin. The concern for aflatoxin-contaminated corn led company officials at the Quaker Oats breakfast cereal plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to assay every truckload of corn entering the plant for aflatoxin. The value of this solution is evident by the fact that two major grain storage companies are committed to serve as beta test sites for the product.