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Bioactive paper research injected with $7.5-million to detect pathogens and toxins

Researchers working to commercialize bioactive paper received a second-term, five-year boost of $7.5-million from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's (NSERC). The federal funds will support Sentinel Bioactive Paper...


February 16, 2011
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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Continued funding for the Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network will support research into fast

Researchers working to commercialize bioactive paper received a second-term, five-year boost of $7.5-million from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC). The federal funds will support Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network’s five research platforms formed to commercialize bioactive paper.

Bioactive paper has important global human health implications, as it can provide fast, easy and inexpensive detection of pathogens and/or toxins in food, water and air. With Sentinel researcher and McMaster University Professor Dr. John Brennan’s recent success creating a toxin-detecting dipstick (detects organophosphate pesticides), it’s foreseen that bioactive paper strips will be able to detect a range of biohazards affecting humans and animals worldwide. His team’s recent publications supported a simple dipstick technology that is able to detect banned organophosphates used in the developing world on agricultural crops.

“Canada leads the world in the development of bioactive paper,” said Dr. Robert Pelton, Sentinel’s Scientific Director, McMaster University Professor and a Canada Research Chair. “The pesticide sensor paper is the first example of Brennan’s printed sol-gel encapsulated sensors — a new technology platform. This paper has generated enormous interest and Sentinel is working with industry partners towards pilot scale production of the sensors. More sensors are in the pipeline aimed at food safety.”

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With Sentinel research operating with five platform-based research themes, the Network can accelerate the development of simple, rapid and inexpensive “tests” such as anti-listeria meat wrap, water and food quality dipsticks, trace contaminant alert tests and pesticide detection paper-sensors. Bioactive paper’s low-cost, simplicity and rapid response make it an attractive food and water safety tool for developed and developing countries.

Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network brings together 28 academic researchers from 10 universities, with industry and government partners. Sentinel will operate with $7.5-million in funding over five years from NSERC and another $2-million and $2-million (in-kind) from industry partners SC Johnson, FP Innovations- PAPRICAN, StoraEnso, and Graphic Controls, and government partners NSERC, Ontario Centres of Excellence and the National Research Council. McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario leads the Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network and hosts its administrative centre.