Disposable, low-cost test kit for arsenic in resource limited markets

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Chemistry


The effects of arsenic in drinking water have been called by WHO "The greatest mass poisoning of a population inhuman history" and whilst remediation is the long term solution the need for a quick, cheap, simple and accurate determination is immediate, to avoid poisoning, and necessary to prioritise and validate the remediation activities. In this project we intend to use the unique characteristics of an arsenite oxidising enzyme (specificity and catalytic activity) combined with the technology behind the glucose test strips used by millions of diabetics every day to produce a low cost and reliable arsenite biosensor suitable for field use in resource poor environments. The strips would give an accurate measure of arsenic levels at the 'well side' at a price point that will encourage widespread adoption.


10 25 50
Description 1. We have shown that the enzyme used in the arsenic sensors can be produced in quantities sufficient for production of large numbers (10,000's) for sensor strips for field trials and early deployment.
2. We have developed a prototyping method based on low-cost metal-on-polymer materials that can be laser ablated to define the electrodes onto which enzyme ban be deposited in a highly reproducible fashion using precision liquid printing.
3. We have formulated the enzyme with additives that improve its stability
Exploitation Route We have now developed the production capabilities to make enough sensors that are sufficiently reproducible to take into field trials. We are also adapting our sensors so they can be combined with arsenic remediation systems to monitor the latter's performance and let the users know when they need to regenerate/replace the arsenic removal cartridges.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Environment,Healthcare

Description The work allowed a company, Bionano Consulting, to assess the commercial opportunities and technical risks in building a business around arsenic testing in resource-limited environments. They were able to use the results to successfully bid for an InnovateUK Newton Fund grant to work with partners in India (IIT Madras, Chennai) on a combined sensing/remediation approach to arsenic contamination of drinking water
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Healthcare
Impact Types Economic

Description SuperFoF
Amount £528,417 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2014 
End 04/2016
Description Development Partnership 
Organisation Bionano Consulting Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The research was initiated and proven by my team and then the technology transferred to the collaborators. We also supplied know how and materials.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners established commercial links with collaborating companies and research organisations overseas as potential end users.
Impact The collaboration has enabled our partners to successfully win InnovateUK funding to continue the commercialisation activities
Start Year 2015
Description Use of a modified arsenite oxidase in and arsenite biosensor 
IP Reference US9447384 
Protection Patent granted
Year Protection Granted 2016
Licensed No
Impact The asignee was able to win further funding from InnovateUK for commercial development
Company Name AquAffirm Ltd 
Description The company was spun out from BioNano Consulting Ltd to give a greater focus on the arsenic sensing development. It is currentlly fund raising to scale up manufacture of sensing devices for water borne toxins 
Year Established 2018 
Impact None as yet
Description Invited Talks (PI) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited lecture at Bangalore India Nano Conference and subsequently met interested researchers and journalists
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.bangaloreindianano.in
Description School Entry Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The talk was part of an Imperial College Open Day and was designed the show the breadth of research activity in a Chemistry Department is much greater than 'traditional' chemistry

Pupils and parents asked about interdisciplinary teaching in Chemistry degrees
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
Description Sensors in the Environment Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Talk generated a lot of interest in the audience

After the talk there was discussions on using aptamers in environmental analysis in other areas with other analyses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014