Environment monitoring, security and food quality control Smart-Nanohydrogels as Phage-Delivery Systems for the Control of Foodborne Pathogens
Microbial foodborne diseases are growing worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, one-third of industrialized countries population may be affected each year, mostly infected by pathogens such as Campylobacter or Listeria. Antibiotics are no longer an option for the control of pathogens in food-producing animals, and consumers are increasingly rejecting chemical preservatives. Novel technologies must be explored to improve food safety. Bacteriophages may provide a natural, specific, effective, and non-toxic tool to reduce pathogens in both animals and foodstuff. However, ineffective phage treatments were also reported, mainly related to their environmental-resistance and the appropriate dosage and moment of administration.
This project is aimed to increase the effectiveness of phage treatments by using smart phage-delivery-systems based on environmentally-sensitive nanohydrogels. We will synthesize and evaluate nanohydrogels able to load phages against foodborne pathogens, protect the phages from hostile environments, and release them at appropriate doses under environmental conditions that promote microbial growth. Phage-loaded nanohydrogels can be applied to packaging materials for food marketing and distribution, but they can also be used in animal husbandry; therefore, contributing to a reduction of antibiotics misuse, and reducing the emergence of new drug-resistant bacteria.