Science and Technology

Brazilians create biossenssor detecting pesticides in minutes

Methamidophos pesticide interacts central nervous system, causing irreversible damage to the brain, leading to death

Scientists have developed a bissensor which is capable of, in a short time (minutes), detect the existence of methamidophos pesticide in water, soil contaminated food. The study was motivated by the existence of large indices of pesticides in groundwater and in major crops in the state of Mato Grosso.

The biosensor was constructed exclusively for detecting the pesticide methamidophos, but he is prepared to be adapted for the detection of other pesticides belonging to the class of organophosphates or carbamates, which enhances their utility and importance. The methamidophos is not only widely used in agricultural work in Mato Grosso, but also throughout the country, and be extraordinarily strong, easily penetrates the soil and, consequently, in groundwater. Due to its chemical composition, this pesticide interacts freely in the central nervous system of the human being, attacking him rapidly, causing irreversible brain damage and can lead to death.

The sensor is easy to construct, and consists of a very thin film nano, where the enzyme is immobilized acetylcholinesterase (exactly like the one that exists in the human brain). When the enzyme comes into contact with the molecules of the pesticide, its action is inhibited, producing less protons compared with the enzyme without the presence of the pesticide: this difference of protons is read and displayed in a small device which is introduced that film, accusing, thus, the contamination levels.

The joint research project between the Institute of Physics of São Carlos (IFSC), USP and the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT) resulted in the idealization, construction and patenting of the biosensor. Izabela Gutierrez de Arruda is the author of the project.

<i> first patent </ i>

It is the first patent registration UFMT in forty years of the university. Currently, all analyzes pertaining to pesticide contamination in the state of Mato Grosso is sent to Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. With this biosensor, this may no longer be needed because the equipment is the size of a meter rates of diabetes and gives the answer in a few minutes.

The team is now seeking instead a national biotechnology industry with an interest and buy the idea for marketing the entire appliance (which can cost between R $ 100.00 and R $ 200.00 each unit).

Izabela highlights that the work is the social and ecological impact. This pesticide is used widely in Mato Grosso, and in many regions of our country, warning. If the Pantanal region could be threatened by this pesticide, its location, other countries bordering with Brazil may also feel this dangerous effect, because contamination can reach the drinking water reservoirs and major rivers of the state.

Confirming the concern Izabela, research done by Professor Wanderlei Pignati, UFMT researcher and a leading national expert on pesticides, confirmed the presence of pesticides in several major rivers, wells and even in animals, in Mato Grosso. Another work Pignati also proved the existence of indices of pesticides in breast milk. The National Agency for Sanitary Surveillance (ANVISA) is in an open process to ban the pesticide market, prohibiting their production, as is the case in several EU countries.

<i> Agency information USP </ i>