Development of a cell-based sensing device to evaluate toxicity of inhaled materials

Mark R. Riley, Kenneth A. Jordan, Melissa L. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Health risks associated with the inhalation of materials have been a topic of great concern due to highly publicized cases of inhalation anthrax, of new regulations on the release of PM2.5, and to increased concerns on the hazards of indoor air pollution. At this time, there are no automatable methods to evaluate the potential health impact of inhaled materials. Here, we describe the design and evaluation of a cell-based device that can determine the potential health impact of inhaled materials. The sensor platform utilizes cultured lung cells as a biological recognition element. The health and activity of these cells is characterized through a colorimetric metabolic assay that is monitored using light-emitting diodes and photodetectors. Cells are responsive to a variety of materials including low levels of Zn, of combustion derived particulate matter, and to volatizable pesticides. Substantial responses are obtained with as little as 10-4% by volume of pesticides, to μg/ml particulate matter, and μM levels of metals. The sensitivity of this device compares well to that obtained through more traditional cell culture measurements. The device is small, portable, and has the potential to be employed outside of a laboratory setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-99
Number of pages5
JournalBiochemical Engineering Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal cell culture
  • Bioprocess monitoring
  • Biosensors
  • Instrumentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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