Fluorescent, Polymerized, Affinity Liposomes for the Detection of Bacterial Toxins

Period of Performance: 08/01/2002 - 01/31/2003


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Luna Innovations, Inc.
301 1st St Suite 200
Roanoke, VA 24011
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Sponsored Programs 0170
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Institution POC


Luna Innovations proposes to develop novel, affinity-based, polymerized, fluorescent liposomes (fluorosomes) for the detection of biological toxins in water. The detection platforms will focus on assays that uses antibody or receptor ligands with diacetylene-based liposomes which change their fluorescence intensities or spectra upon binding of their respective toxin targets. At present, methods for detection of biowarfare or bioterrorism agents are based on multi-step immunoassays (ELISA), insensitive colorimetric assays, or poorly characterized fiber-optic platforms. The use of affinity polymerized fluorosomes will combine one-step simplicity, fluorescence sensitivity, ligand specificity and field portability. The proposed Phase I work will use an assortment of lipid-based fluorescent indicators in a variety liposome formulations. Initial studies will focus on the binding interactions of model toxins such as cholera toxin and LPS endotoxin with their respective antibodies and cell receptors (e.g., GM1 ganglioside). Subsequent Phase II studies will expand the classes of toxins studied and determine the optimal testing conditions and functional ranges of the assay materials. Arrays of liposomes for use in fingerprint detection of mixed targets and a portable fluorescent reader format will also be developed. Affinity, polymerized, fluorescent liposomes have the potential to be used in a variety of major markets segments. Not only are such potentially flexible, highly sensitive fluorescent reagents needed for biowarfare and bioterrorist applications, but affinity fluorosomes have the potential for use in high-throughput screening in the pharmaceutical industry and as diagnostic reagents in human and veterinary medicine.