Since my last post, I was really busy working in the lab and trying to evaluate my outcome. This period passed and now it’s time to communicate our results both to the scientific community and the general public. Right now, I am writing you from Munich where the 12th European Pesticide Residue Workshop (EPRW2018) takes place, http://www.eprw2018.com/ . I arrived here with my UCT Prague-colleagues on Monday and today is the last day of the workshop. I am very happy being there and illustrate our progress with a poster presentation entitled “The potential of smartphones as portable detectors in AChE inhibitors screening”.
Additionally, I am proud to notice that our study is the only investigating the analytical capabilities of smartphones for the pesticide residues screening. The poster session lasted three days (22-24/5) and I had the chance to discuss with many people both for my part but also for the entire project. The best thing was to see the face reaction of people while they were reading our poster. Some of them were surprised, others laughing or could not believe the concept. People working on the pesticides field are used to handle laborious, time-consuming and expensive methods. On the other hand, our smartphone-based assay with the minimal sample handling, the short reaction time and the cost effectiveness seems a revolutionary alternative. Of course, we have still many things to solve and improve but after 11 months of work – starting from zero – we showed that the smartphone-based detection is not just a cool idea. It’s a functional principle that needs more investigation and that’s how we will continue. Another encouraging fact was that people from academia, research and companies came to me and say:
- “How is it possible?”
- “I need something like this in my company. Is it a commercial product?”
- “This is original, keep on”
- “This is the future”
After this experience, I am convinced that we are towards the right direction and I look forward to progress and achieve more. Concerning the workshop, the level of presentations was high and I had the chance to listen the state of the art in the pesticide residues analysis.
The workshop was also a chance to spend more time out of the lab with my colleagues in the beautiful city of Munich. We were located very close to the city center and walked around the Bavarian capital. In a previous blog, I wrote that Czech beer is the best that I had ever tested. However, I have to admit that the Bavarian one was also of high quality but still not first in my list. As you can understand, being a Marie-Curie fellow enables you to try various beers in different parts of the world :P.
The hard work during these months was not only dedicated to my enzyme assay but also to the development of the “Bio End-user Sensor Tree” system. I will briefly remind you what Jordi has already described in his previous blog. We propose a novel end-user orientated classification system that we named the “Bio End-user Sensor Tree” or BEST system. BEST is based on a classification system that uses 4 criteria in the following consecutive order 1) expert training needed 2) sensor portability 3) quantification ability 4) single or multiplex screening ability. These criteria are used to build a decision tree that enables end-users throughout the production chain (from the agriculture sector to the consumer) to make an informed decision regarding which biosensor best fits their needs. BEST at this moment includes aquatic toxins (Jordi), pesticides (me), mycotoxins (Philana) and pathogens (Javier) and more than 600 artilces have been reviewed in order to build this interactive database. Also, Jack has developed two different web-pages (http://best.foodsmartphone.net/ and http://bestwiki.foodsmartphone.net/) where the data of the BEST database will be uploaded, classified and discussed. Our study will be fully available at these pages, once we hopefully publish this great effort. A first glance in our work will be available in two upcoming conferences where Jordi will represent the BEST team:
- 28-31/5, ASSET 2018, Belfast, UK – J.L.D. Nelis, A.S. Tsagkaris, Y. Zhao, Lou Franco, P. Nolan, C. Elliott, C. Cao,H.Zhou, J. Hajslova and K. Campbell, “Biosensors into the limelight: Towards a user-friendly interface with The Bio End user Sensor Tree”.
- 12-15/6, Biosensors 2018, Miami, USA – .L.D. Nelis, A.S. Tsagkaris, Y. Zhao, Lou Franco, P. Nolan, C. Elliott, C. Cao,H.Zhou, J. Hajslova and K. Campbell, “Revealing biosensor capabilities through an open source stakeholder interaction platform equipped with a user friendly decision tree”.
Last but not least, the 2nd FoodSmartphone Summer school will take place from 18/6 – 22/6 in UCT Prague. As the host for my fellow ESRs, I will try to show them the best parts of the city and also will bring them to a typical Czech place in order to taste Czech cuisine (yeah it exists, it’s not a prank) and of course beer. I hope that you will like it and visit me again in the future (any secondments in Prague?).
Until the next time, keep safe.