Lab News

Soy Shows Promise as Natural Anti-Microbial Agent: Study

Soy isoflavones and peptides may inhibit the growth of microbial pathogens that cause food-borne illnesses, according to a new study from University of Guelph researchers.

Soybean derivatives are already a mainstay in food products, such as cooking oils, cheeses, ice cream, margarine, food spreads, canned foods and baked goods.

The use of soy isoflavones and peptides to reduce microbial contamination could benefit the food industry, which currently uses synthetic additives to protect foods, says engineering professor Suresh Neethirajan, director of the BioNano Laboratory.

U of G researchers used microfluidics and high-throughput screening to run millions of tests in a short period.

They found that soy can be a more effective antimicrobial agent than the current roster of synthetic chemicals.

“Heavy use of chemical antimicrobial agents has caused some strains of bacteria to become very resistant to them, rendering them ineffective for the most part,” said Neethirajan.

“Soy peptides and isoflavones are biodegradable, environmentally friendly and non-toxic. The demand for new ways to combat microbes is huge, and our study suggests soy-based isoflavones and peptides could be part of the solution.”

Neethirajan and his team found soy peptides and isoflavones limited growth of some bacteria, including Listeria and Pseudomonas pathogens.

“The really exciting thing about this study is that it shows promise in overcoming the issue of current antibiotics killing bacteria indiscriminately, whether they are pathogenic or beneficial. You need beneficial bacteria in your intestines to be able to properly process food,” he said.

Peptides are part of proteins, and can act as hormones, hormone producers or neurotransmitters. Isoflavones act as hormones and control much of the biological activity on the cellular level.

North America has one of the safest food sources in the world, said Neethirajan, but the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 48 million people in the U.S. suffer from some sort of food-borne illness every year.

“In addition, some people are worried about the potential for long-term illnesses resulting from the use of synthetic chemicals,” Neethirajan said.

“The use of soy peptides and isoflavones could combat bacteria and reduce these concerns.”

The next step is for researchers to conduct large-scale tests, Neethirajan said.

“We’ve created a recipe for this to go ahead. This could be very beneficial to food processors, as well as the farmers who grow soy beans.”

La Terre de Chez Nous  (Earth from Home) is a Quebec based magazine published since 1929. They published an article on our nanobiosensor called 'Mise au point d’un nanobiocapteur'.

Page 17 of the article can be downloaded from here  

Below is the google translation of the article.

Development of a  NanoBiosensor

Detect diseases before their outbreak is the dream of every doctor! Yet this dream comes true ... for cows. A professor of engineering from the University of Guelph Ontario has developed a nano-biosensor capable of detecting ketosis, or metabolic disease before they occur. The BioNano laboratory researchers contributed to the design of the portable instrument. This one works with small sticks like diagnostic, a bit like a glucometer for diabetics, on which a small amount of blood or milk is applied. "This device is similar to a diabetes screening test and drop of blood you can whether a disease is present or no "af) rm Neethirajan, creator of the instrument. This rating at the present time, samples Blood must be sent to a lab, a process that requires usually five to seven days. The Professor believes it will be possible develop capable devices to detect other diseases such mastitis, paratuberculosis, the immunodeficiency) deficiency in calves and, in the near future, Lyme disease and language blue in beef cattle.

Science champion

Grimsby high school student Lucas Penny, 17 year old grade 11 student has won the top spot at the Southwestern Ontario edition of the 23rd Sanofi Biogenius Canada competition in Waterloo on April 13, 2016. His project focused on early detection of cancer through microfluidic detection in saliva. He also won the commercialization award, and best research poster, earning him 3500 dollars in prize money. The national final is in Ottawa on May 2-3.

Lucas Penny has been working as a high school research intern with Steven Panesar and under the mentorship of Professor Suresh Neethirajan of BioNano Lab of the University of Guelph, since August 2015.  Lucas has developed a microfluidic device that uses salivary microRNAs profile expression analysis to detect cancer.

The annual Sanofi Biogenius Challenge Canada is a national, biotechnology research science competition for Canadian high school and CEGEP students. They’re challenged to take on university-level research projects under the mentorship from local scientists and researchers, who help with research design, resources and data analysis.

Lucas is excited to represent Southern Ontario at the National competition to be held at Ottawa from May 1-3, 2016. Lucas will also present his research results at the Canada-Wide Science and Engineering Fair to be held in Montreal during May 15-21, 2016.



Postdoctoral Fellow in Biosensors and Bioelectronics    (PDF)

A Postdoctoral Research Fellow (PDF) position is available in the BioNano laboratory with Professor Suresh to investigate and develop novel molecular diagnostics based biosensors and bioinstrumentation towards field deployable tools for detection of infectious and metabolic disease biomarkers.

Applicants must have a PhD in bioengineering or chemical engineering or electrical engineering or chemistry or a related field.

Highly motivated postdoctoral fellow with focus on electrochemical based biosensor development are encouraged to apply. The fellow will be responsible for developing sensing mechanisms and interfacing with instrumentation to enable the sensor for real-time detection of analytes for healthcare and biomedical applications. Simultaneous and multiple detection of biomarkers or virus strains from the same sample is a challenge. Sensor interfacing and integration for real-time deployment will require team working skills.

The fellow will design, develop, construct, analyze and test electrochemical or optical biosensors for multiple analytes.  Previous experience in conducting electrochemical analytical techniques, sensor fabrication, and device testing and development, and enzyme characterization will be considered an asset. The PDF will work independently and also in a team setting and involve in student training and the technology development.

Outstanding researchers are invited to submit a full CV, a list of first-authored journal publications to Professor Suresh at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Keywords: Electrochemical biosensors; instrumentation; point of care diagnostics; avian flu; viruses; bacteria; sensor; microfluidics; nanomaterials; biomedical microdevices


                  Example of an Avian Influenza Virus Sensor Developed at the BioNano lab (Talanta, 2016)

Dr. Suresh Neethirajan delivered an invited lecture on February 4, 2016 at the Noel Ryan Auditorium organized by the Royal Canadian Institute for Science. 

Good Things Come in Small Packages: Rapid Detection of Avian Flu

The risk of a major biological incident in farmed animals is on the rise due to globalization and ecological pressures. Innovations from the Internet of Things, SMART and Precision Agriculture including nanosensor biotechnologies provide rapid diagnostics to anticipate when and where such as incident may occur. 

Webcast Lecture -  Link 

Royal Canadian Institute for Science Winter 2016 Lectures - Link 

Contact Us

Bionanotechnology Laboratory
Suresh Neethirajan

School of Engineering
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario
Canada N1G 2W1

Room 3513 - Richards Building
50 Stone Road East

Lab: THRN 2133 BioNano Lab

Phone: (519) 824-4120 Ext 53922
Fax: (519) 836-0227


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