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Nanofibers for disease detection

In nano on September 29, 2006 at 11:26 pm

Sept. 11, 2006
CU biodegradable wipe would quickly detect biohazards, from avian flu to E. coli
By Susan Lang

Detecting bacteria, viruses and other dangerous substances in hospitals, airplanes and other commonly contaminated places could soon be as easy as wiping a napkin or paper towel across a surface.
Margaret Frey and Jamie Mullally examine a nanofiber fabric
University Photography
Jamie Mullally ’07, right, a Cornell Presidential Research Scholar, and Margaret Frey, assistant professor of textiles and apparel, examine a nonwoven nanofiber fabric on aluminum foil backing. Mullally will complete an honors thesis on the biorecognition fabrics in spring ’07. Copyright © Cornell University

“It’s very inexpensive, it wouldn’t require that someone be highly trained to use it, and it could be activated for whatever you want to find,” said Margaret Frey, the Lois and Mel Tukman Assistant Professor of Fiber Science and Apparel Design at Cornell University. “So if you’re working in a meat-packing plant, for instance, you could swipe it across some hamburger and quickly and easily detect E. coli bacteria.” She reported on the research Sept. 11 at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting.

Once fully developed, the biodegradable absorbent wipe would contain nanofibers containing antibodies to numerous biohazards and chemicals and would signal by changing color or through another effect when the antibodies attached to their targets. Users would simply wipe the napkin across a surface; if a biohazard were detected, the surface could be disinfected and retested with another napkin to be sure it was no longer contaminated…..
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