ARS researchers improve methods for detecting Listeria
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in
Pennsylvania in the US are improving methods to detect foodborne pathogens like
the potentially deadly Listeria monocytogenes.
The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention
estimates that Listeriosis, the illness caused by
infection, affects around 2,500 people in the US every
year, and kills about 500. Newborns, seniors, pregnant women and individuals
with compromised or weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible.
Most methods for detecting harmful foodborne bacteria rely on antibodies,
which are proteins used by the immune system to fight infections and foreign
bodies. Because these antibodies target very specific infections, researchers
can use them to identify and locate specific pathogens.
A molecular method called 'phage display' uses bacteria and bacterial
viruses, or phages, to quickly select antibodies to detect pathogens. Now ARS
microbiologist George C Paoli and chemist Jeffrey D Brewster have employed phage
display to isolate an antibody fragment that binds specifically to L.
The researchers' findings demonstrate that antibody phage display can be
used to select antibodies for pathogen detection, even where traditional methods
have proved inadequate.
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