Cheap effective realtime multi-target antibiotic residue screening is not currently available for the food industry. However, the simultaneous detection of antibiotic residues would be a major advantage for the industry reducing time and cost of analysis of products for positive release to market and avoiding expensive recalls thereafter. This would be a highly innovative product designed specifically to meet the market requirements based on consultation with the industry. The commercial attractiveness is obvious: for people applying such tests it will be possible to detect a relatively large panel of targets in one sample simultaneously. The prototype kit would offer a new market opportunity replacing either single target platforms or highly expensive laboratory based tools. The final product upon commercialisation after the completion of this project will be sold directly to end users and also via a distributor network in over 100 countries worldwide. In addition, it would be the model platform to thereafter develop further multiplex combination tests for additional food safety contaminants such natural toxins, pesticides, and hormones.

The objective of this project is to develop a prototype kit for multi-analyte antibiotic screening in several food matrices that is suitable for use by the food industry. This project will provide a novel and unique rapid multiplex test which is not currently offered on the market anywhere worldwide. The ambition of this project is to provide a prototype that will have a time to results of less than 10mins/sample with detection limits lower than what is required to meet legislation globally.

An array of binding ligands (carrier proteins or antibodies) will be printed on a suitable solid binding surface by ultra-low volume dispensing. Applying printed spots of binding ligands enables the very efficient use of these ligands (droplets of approximately 1 nL of sample) and allows for a multiplicity of samples to be detected on a very limited area of solid binding surface. Nevertheless, running the test is as simple as an over-the-counter pregnancy hormone test kit. Such rapid multiplex assays are not in the market due to several challenges that will be addressed in this project: the lack of large-scale production possibilities for these multiplex tests, the lack of cutting equipment suited for cutting in between arrays and the lack of a reader or smartphone application to read the results of such a test.