The aim of this research project is the development of a semi-autonomous system for on-site measurement and detection of endocrine-disrupting substances in municipal wastewater treatment plants. Contamination of our water supplies with incompletely metabolized pharmaceuticals or hormonal drugs is straining our sewage treatment plants. As a result, hormonally active substances are entering our aquatic ecosystems which can endanger the development and reproduction of aquatic organisms.
The first semi-online instrument, the EstraMonitor, monitored the estrogenic concentration of waste water treatment plants. It was based on the yeast sensor developed by new_diagnostics four years ago in conjunction with the IPK, QuoData, PROLATEC and the University of Canterbury. However, upon further testing, it was discovered that the number of measuring chambers and the duration of the measurement were limited.
In order to develop a faster and more efficient measurement system that could withstand the demands of the wastewater industry and biotechnological challenges, new_diagnostics teamed up with several partners (QuoData, IUTA, IPK, PROLATEC, and MLE ) in 2011 to build an improved system based off the original EstraMonitor.
Three biosensors were designed to monitor estrogenically-active substances and related pharmaceutical metabolites. All three functional microbial components are based on the recombinant expression of human receptors. They are products of the cytochrome P450 oxidase genes and as such, play a central role in the metabolism of various substances (ex. pharmaceuticals).
Detection of estrogenic or androgenic effects in samples are quantified based on genetic modifications as previously described in A-YES and A-YAS.
The quantification of such trace substances is then carried out by means of amperometric measurements. Using a current, conclusions about the concentration of the sample via substrate conversion and oxidative enzyme activity.
The device has been designed as a closed unit with automated sampling, measurement and calibration history, data processing, measured value provision, and self-monitoring of the device functions. The combination of such functions makes the device operable in a container from anywhere.