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Simpler and quicker toxin detection

11 April 2005

Several naturally occurring moulds that can grow in and on fruits such as apples, pears and grapes produce the toxic chemical Patulin, which has been shown to cause adverse effects in animals. Now scientists, collaborating with industrial partners, have developed a rapid test for Patulin, something that has eluded the fruit industry for 20 years, and once commercialised it should make the risk of contaminated fruit a thing of the past.

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde worked with colleagues at Adgen Ltd, funded by a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Knowledge Transfer Partnership grant, to develop monoclonal antibodies that bind uniquely to the Patulin in infected fruit. The detection and estimation of the chemical has frustrated the food industry for years but the researchers’ work will now enable the development of a simple test, based on the antibody, that will ensure the quick identification quick identification of toxin-contaminated fruit products.

The BBSRC Knowledge Transfer Partnership has given the University of Strathclyde access to new techniques being used in the commercial sector while Adgen has benefited from the unique technology developed under the partnership and will be able to bring Patulin detection products to the market.

Professor William Stimson of the University of Strathclyde said, “This research has produced an antibody that can be developed into a test that will eliminate any risk of contaminated fruit and fruit juices reaching consumers. There has been a guideline limit for Patulin in the UK for a number of years but this research will mean that the risk will be reduced to the absolute minimum in the future.”


Notes to editors

This research features in the April 2005 issue of Business, the quarterly magazine of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) enable collaborative partnerships between the bioscience base and industry. These partnerships transfer knowledge and develop graduate and postgraduate personnel for industrial careers. KTP programmes involve collaboration between industrial and academic scientists. High calibre graduates or postgraduates, known as KTP Associates, are recruited to innovative projects within industry and are supervised by the participating industrial and academic partners. Each KTP Programme involves one or more KTP Associates and lasts between one and three years.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

External contact

Professor William Stimson, University of Strathclyde


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299