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Scientists create 'Cybertongue' to detect lactose and food toxins

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Scientists will be able to detect lactose and spoilt milk in almost real time using a new "Cybertongue." 
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You may not be able to stick it in your mouth just yet, but Australian scientists say a new "Cybertongue" can detect allergens in food in close to real time, and could be a game changer for biosecurity and human health.

Developed at the Australian scientific research organisation CSIRO, the device uses "biological sensors" to detect the presence of lactose in milk samples, as well as spoilt milk, according a CSIRO press release Tuesday. The Cybertongue (not really a tongue, but a device about the size of a tissue box that plugs into a laptop) can detect the presence of allergens in close to real time.

"Current diagnostic methods for lactose are expensive and it can take up to a week to receive results," said Dr. Stephen Trowell, former CSIRO researcher and founder of PPB Technology (which has licensed the Cybertongue technology).

"By using a special biosensor for lactose, the Cybertongue technology provides accurate and close to real time measurements anywhere in the production line."

CSIRO has also partnered with PPB Technology to find new uses for technology and to detect other allergens.

"The unique way we have built the technology means we can develop sensors that detect a wide range of substances including toxins, allergens and enzymes," said senior CSIRO researcher Dr. Alisha Anderson.

"In human health this technology could mean potentially fatal health conditions like sepsis could be diagnosed in just a few minutes rather than current methods which take a few hours, potentially leading to faster and more effective treatment."

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