Biotoxins

Dalcon Environmental now has the capacity to undertake a range of marine and freshwater biotoxin tests using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) techniques and other rapid testing technologies.

ELISA methods used by Dalcon Environmental yield quantitative results via the comparison of test results with a standard curve produced from the analysis of a certified toxin standard which is analysed concurrently with the test samples.

Whilst ELISA methods are not as accurate as methods typically used by some of the large analytical laboratories (e.g. liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectroscopy; LC-MS/MS) the results from ELISA methods can be obtained much more quickly (within hours) and they are usually significantly less expensive.

ELISA methods are, however, very reliable and they have gained regulatory approval for the detection and quantification of several types of biotoxins in many jurisdictions.

The preferred ELISA test kits used by Dalcon Environmental for ELISA are those produced by BioSense Laboratories and/or Abraxis.

Tests (ELISA) available for marine biotoxins are:

  • Domoic Acid (responsible for Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning)
  • Brevetoxin (responsible for Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning)
  • Okadaic Acid (responsible for Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning)
  • Saxitoxin (responsible for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning)

Tests (ELISA) available for freshwater biotoxins (cyanotoxins) are:

  • Microcystin
  • Microcystin/Nodularin
  • Cylindrospermopsin
  • Anabaenopeptin
  • Anatoxin-a
  • β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA)

Dalcon Environmental also has the capacity for very rapid biotoxin/cyanotoxin determinations using several commercially available strip test (or ‘dipstick’) test kits.

These test kits are not as accurate as ELISA kits but results can be obtained very quickly (1 hour). Depending on the type of test kit used, results obtained can be quantitative or qualitative (present/absent).

Where possible, Dalcon Environmental utilises test strip kits which have electronic strip readers. These strip readers are able to consistently detect the presence/absence of the test line on the test strip and, as is the case for several kit types, also measure the magnitude of the test line development to provide a quantitative result.

Electronic strip readers remove the user subjectivity from the interpretation of results. User subjectivity, as well as the ambient light conditions under which visual assessment of test line development is assessed can be a considerable source of error.

Strip tests available for marine biotoxins are:

  • Domoic Acid (responsible for Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning)
  • Okadaic Acid group of toxins (OA, DTX1, DTX2 and DTX3) (responsible for Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning)
  • Saxitoxin (responsible for Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning)

Strip tests are also available for the following toxins potentially found in seafood:

  • Histamines – High levels of histamine may develop in a variety of fish species as they decompose, ingestion of histamine may cause scombroid poisoning in humans.
  • Sulphites – Sulphiting agents may be used with shrimp, lobster and related crustaceans to prevent melanosis; some consumers are highly allergic to sulphite residues in food.

Strip tests available for freshwater biotoxins (cyanotoxins) are:

  • Microcystins (various sensitivities obtainable depending upon application, e.g. drinking waters vs recreational waters)
  • Cylindrospermopsin
  • Anatoxin-a

Please do not hesitate to contact Dalcon Environmental if you would like to test for a toxin group not listed here or you would like to test with a particular brand of test.  In all likelihood, we can still help you. If we can’t help you, we will do our best to point you in the direction of someone who can.

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