Shellfish represent a significant part of the Croatian and global fish markets, however their susceptibility to contamination by algal toxins, with the resulting periodic outbreak of food poisoning in humans, places their commercial value at constant risk.
The reference method used to test for marine biotoxins is the so-called 'mouse bioassay' but is controversial, not only because it is a relatively insensitive method and somewhat unreliable but also as it results in the death of the animal. Based on this, the World Health Organization and European Union have directed that the use of laboratory animals be phased out with the development of more sensitive analytical methods in its place.
Therefore the NanoBioTox project has been designed to address these food quality and safety needs through the development of novel, sensitive and highly-specific nanotechnology-based non-animal bioassays and nano-biosensors that may be used in the field to rapidly identify the presence and quantity of marine biotoxins in shellfish.
Ultimately, as the basis for this sensing technique is not solely limited to marine biotoxins may be extended to many other biological macromolecules of interest, it is envisaged over the mid- to long-term that it will find applications in biomedicine in diagnostic applications for the early detection of a range of human diseases.