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A member of the academic staff of the Research Institute of Food Science and Technology announced that an aptamer-based liquid crystal biochip which identifies and measures Ochratoxin A, a serious threat to food safety and human health, has been developed in this Institute. 
"Ochratoxins belong to a class of toxic metabolites produced by some fungi and are among the most important types of food toxins," said Dr. Asma Verdian. This pollutant is one of the kidney-liver toxins and disrupts the immune system.
She added "According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Ochratoxin A is a potential human carcinogen (group B2) and causes cytotoxicity and hormonal disorders and is considered as one of the effective factors in male infertility and fetal death.
Referring to the high stability of this toxin against natural and biological decomposers, she said: "Due to high persistence of Ochratoxin A in the environment, this toxin causes contamination of a wide range of raw and processed foods for human consumption, including cereals, spices, kernels, nuts, dried fruits, coffee and grape juice.
The supervisor of the research project "Designing biochip detection and measurement of Ochratoxin A" said about this project: Measurement of Ochratoxin A has been done in various studies, but in this project, based on liquid crystal technology, a very sensitive biosensor with detection limit in the attomolar range for measuring Ochratoxin in grape and rice juice samples was introduced, which is the lowest reported limit for this toxin.
Dr.Verdian continued: "Liquid crystal biosensors have been introduced as one of the novel and most sensitive diagnostic kits in the world. The Research Institute of Food Science and Technology, in line with international knowledge, is a pioneer and the first research center in this field in Iran.
She explained: "Increasing the speed of identification, the ease of use and reducing the cost of diagnosis are among the benefits of using the proposed method in this research achievement."
This member of the academic staff of the Department of Safety and Quality Control of the Institute said: "Considering the extent of pathogenicity of Ochratoxins in food consumed by humans, one of the most effective ways to prevent and reduce treatment costs is to monitor food samples suspected of contamination."
Dr. Verdian added "Currently, instrumental methods such as high-performance liquid chromatography and some immunochemical methods (such as ELISA) for measuring Ochratoxin are common, but conventional instrumental methods for diagnosis of Ochratoxins are complex, expensive and difficult to sample preparation in addition to being time-consuming.
She continued: "Rapid, sensitive, cost-effective, portable and on-site measurement systems for Ochratoxin A are essential to ensure food safety and are valuable ways to assess environmental risks." Liquid crystal-based sensors are designed to be portable and do not require complex and expensive laboratory equipment.
She said: "In this research project, an attempt was made to introduce a new method using liquid crystals that is superior to all the proposed methods so far and can measure the amounts of Ochratoxin A in a simple and cost-effective way, which is superior." The proposed method for detecting Ochratoxin A is its high sensitivity and portability, which will be performed in the next step.
Dr. Verdian concluded: "This project was funded by the Food Science and Technology Research Institute and in collaboration with Professor Chih-Hsin Chen from Taiwan, some of the results of which were published in the journal of Biosensors and Bioelectronics."