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Screening of antibiotic contamination by mobile devices

In July, the researchers from INESC TEC’s Centre for Telecommunications and Multimedia (CTM) started the project S-MODE that seeks to find low-cost techniques for in-situ analysis of the antibiotic contamination in waters, aiming at the rapid diagnosis and immediate intervention.

27th July 2018

Hélder Oliveira, co-leader of the project and collaborator of CTM, recalls that "the resistance to antibiotics is a matter of concern given its ubiquitous existence and is a threat that may foster the emergence of epidemics”.

Thus, the goal of S-MODE is to "develop analytical methodologies based on the use of smartphones", explains the researcher of INESC TEC. “The target analytes will be concentrated to a membrane solid-phase extraction from water samples, followed by an evaluation of the amount of the retained compound after the addition of a colour-development reagent or by direct analysis of the intrinsic fluorescence through the image analysis”, explains Hélder Oliveira.

The low cost of this methodology (less than one Euro per analysis) should make feasible its field application using a small sample volume. Another important factor is the possibility of "evaluating the environmental antimicrobial resistance through the choice of contaminated sampling sites".

Scheduled to end in 2021 and with a EUR 240 000 budget, the project will offer two applications for smartphones for the implementation of validated analytical procedures aimed to screen two classes of antibiotics: sulfonamides and fluoroquinolones.

In addition to Hélder Oliveira and Sílvia Bessa from CTM, the S-MODE is composed of researchers from the Rede de Química e Tecnologia (REQUIMTE), the Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS) and the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Porto (FFUP).

This work is financed by the ERDF – European Regional Development Fund through the Operational Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation - COMPETE 2020 Programme and by National Funds through the Portuguese funding agency, FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia within project POCI-01-0247-FEDER-031756.


The researchers mentioned in this news piece are associated with INESC TEC.