In the early 80s I visited a dozen venture and investor offices to seek development assistance for fluorescent antibodies, the building of a nano-scale library of detectors that would form the basis of an important new industrial and medical sector. I’m noticing progress in the field.

Slowly we are creating sensors and more slowly we are connecting them together. In all likelihood, machine networks will exceed human to human voice and data in the near future and become the dominant source of revenue for communications firms.

A microscopic biological sensor that can detect Salmonella bacteria

traditional microbiological techniques – such as ISO method 6579 – for detecting foodborne pathogens take up to five days to obtain a positive result, including pre-enrichment, selective enrichment and confirmation of colonies, which are time-consuming and labor-intensive. Another downside of culture methods is that they show poor sensitivity when there is only a low level of contamination in the samples. A number of investigators have used the fluorescent-antibody (FA) technique for Salmonella detection. Although FA procedures offer considerable time savings, a large number of the pathogen needs to be present in samples in order to observe detectable fluorescent signals. This usually meant that enrichment culture techniques were required prior to immunofluorescence microscopy. Consequently, the FA procedure for Salmonella detection has not been in routine use.