Kentucky NASA EPSCoR: Miniaturized Multicellular-Based Biosensors for Detecting Toxins

Grants and Contracts Details


The overall objective of the proposed investigation is to develop miniaturized multicellular-based biosensors for use by NASA for applications in environmental and physiological monitoring of toxins during space flights. Specifically, biosensors will be developed and optimized that take advantage of barrier cell permeability dysfunction in the presence of environmental and physiological toxins. The proposed biosensor consists of a confluent monolayer of barrier cells attached to the membrane of an ionselective electrode (ISE). With no toxin present, the tight junction between the cells inhibits the transport of ions across the electrode membrane and no response is obtained from the ISE. When exposed to a toxin, the permeability of the cells increases and the ions reach the ISE membrane resulting in a change in potential. Preliminary results have demonstrated that the ISE response can be correlated with toxin concentration. Initially, the model toxin, TCDD will be used and the barrier cells that will be studied include endothelial cells, and epithelial cells from skin, kidney and lung. The work will also be expanded to include other toxins of interest to NASA investigators. Another important objective of this study is to miniaturize sensor arrays for environmental and physiological monitoring. Preliminary work has focused on developing an array for measuring analytes of interest to NASA (nitrate, ammonium, chloride, and hydrogen ions). While the sensor array for these analytes is optimized, this technology will also be combined with the studies on barrier cell-based biosensors with the ultimate goal of developing a multicellular-based sensor array that can be used by NASA for environmental and/or physiological monitoring of toxins. Dr. Anderson currently has active collaborations with investigators at NASA-Ames and funding through this program will provide her with the opportunity to continue and expand these collaborations into a new and novel area.
Effective start/end date8/1/047/17/06


  • Western Kentucky University: $24,999.00


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