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Método rápido para detectar colifagos somáticos empleados como indicadores de contaminación fecal del agua


Oferta Tecnológica
Una universidad catalana ha desarrollado un nuevo enfoque para la detección de colifagos somáticos, un grupo de fagos de origen fecal que contamina una cepa específica de Escherichia Coli. El método se basa en utilizar una cepa huésped genéticamente modificada que permite la detección de hasta 10 colifagos somáticos en solo dos horas. Puesto que este método solo necesita una incubadora, puede utilizarse en zonas remotas. Se buscan empresas para integrar la tecnología en un kit comercial y establecer acuerdos de licencia y cooperación técnica.


Fast method for the detection of somatic coliphages, used as indicators of water fecal pollution
A Catalan university has developed a new approach for the detection of somatic coliphages, a group of phages from fecal origin infecting a specific strain of Escherichia Coli. The method is based on using a host strain genetically modified that allows detection of up to 10 somatic coliphages in only 2 hours. Since this method requires only an incubator it could be used in remote areas. They seek companies to integrate this technology in a commercial kit via licensing & technical cooperation.
Fecal pollution is one of the main causes of health problems around the world, and is associated with several thousand human mortalities per day by serving as a source of pathogen transmission. Classically bacterial indicators are used for determination of the levels of fecal pollution in waters and in other samples that can be affected by contaminated waters such as food or sludges.

Many studies confirm that bacterial indicators do not provide enough information about the occurrence of non-bacterial pathogens such as viruses and protozoa in water. Therefore other indicators are advisable. Bacteriophages have been proposed as viral fecal indicators and particularly somatic coliphages are numerous, easy and cheap to detect. The current method for detection of somatic coliphages is standardized in an ISO protocol (ISO 10705-2) and allows enumeration of the phages by visualization of lytic plaques of lysis in 18 hours.

Somatic coliphages have been introduced in some water management policies (e.g. US, Canada or Australia) as indicators of water fecal pollution. However, the lack of an easy test for their determination limits the implementation of somatic coliphages in many laboratories, despite their good performance as fecal indicators.

The new developed method, that uses the same host strain and media than the ISO protocol, consists on a genetically modified Escherichia coli host strain. This strain is grown in the liquid medium containing a commercially available substrate.
When the strain grows in this medium without phages the color of the medium is yellow. When the strain grows in the medium in the presence of phages, the phages cause the lysis of the bacterial cells and the medium color changes to blue by degradation of the substrate (other readouts can be achieved only by selecting other commercially available substrates).

In the presence of somatic coliphages, the phages cause the lysis of the strain and the medium turns blue within 2-3 hours incubated at 37ºC. Time for visible reaction is dependent on the phage concentration in the sample and could be shorter at high phage densities. The system allows detection of less than 5 phages/tube.

The strain has been constructed and tested using the standardized media with the substrate. Phages from a stock and phages from natural samples (waters, sludge, seafood) have been assayed in laboratory conditions.

The method can be used for presence/absence or adapted to quantification testing with a Most Probable Number approach

This new method for the detection of fecal pollution can be applied in the food, soil and water pollution sectors.

The Catalan research group is looking for partner able to integrate this technology in a commercial kit interested in a license agreement or technical cooperation.
Advantages and Innovations:
- End-users can obtain a faster method for detection of faecal pollution and get objective results almost in real-time (2-3 hours).

- Only basic laboratory equipment (just a 37ºC incubator) is required to use this method. That allows determination of fecal pollution in remote areas.

- The method can be used for presence/absence or adapted to quantification testing with a Most Probable Number approach.

- This method is more sensitive than the existing methods for determination of fecal pollution and it has been specially designed to avoid false positives.
Stage of Development:
Available for demonstration
Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted
CommeR Statunts Regarding IPR Status:
This method is protected by a PCT submitted in November 2014.

Partner sought

Type and Role of Partner Sought:

Companies able to develop a commercial kit that integrate the developed method of detection interested in a license agreement or a technical cooperation.


Type and Size of Client:
Already Engaged in Trans-National Cooperation:
Languages Spoken:


Technology Keywords:
10002011 Contaminación del terreno y de aguas subterráneas
10002008 Medición y detección de la contaminación
08002002 Microbiología / toxicología / control de calidad de alimentos
06001018 Virus, virología / antibióticos / bacteriología