What do we do?


Based in Begbroke Science Park (the only science park in Oxfordshire wholly owned and managed by the University of Oxford), OMB will be developing biosensors designed to tackle the growing problems of environmental pollution. Together Professors Ian Thompson, Wei Huang, and Paul Whitehead will be working with a team of Oxford Post-Doctoral scientists to develop and deliver this pioneering work.


What are Biosensors?

Bacterial biosensors are devices employed to determine the presence and concentration of specific chemicals. They have enormous potential for detecting even low concentrations of chemicals that may be toxic in the enviroment, or can also be applied for the prospecting of precious metals. Bacterial biosensors respond to environmental compounds and express readily readable signals such as green light or colouration changes, similar to the approach employed in pregnancy kits.

What do our Biosensors do?

Oxford Molecular Biosensors' key scientists have developed novel and highly effective bacterial Biosensors for the detection of toxicity within a sample. One is a metabolic sensor which luminesces brightly in uncontaminated samples, or those with a low concentration of a toxic contaminant. As the contaminant concentration increases, the sensor decreases in brightness, visually demonstrating the presence of toxicity. The second kind of biosensor has been engineered to luminesce when DNA is damaged by toxic exposure. Our Biosensors are semi-quantitative, as their luminescence decreases in proportion to an increasing concentration of toxic compounds. Both Biosensors report on the general presence of toxicity rather than having to use multiple sensors to detect individual chemical compounds. In addition, we are developing biosensors to detect key toxic elements, in particular heavy metals involved in environmental contamination such as arsenic and cadmium.


What makes our Biosensors unique?

Current procedures for measuring the potential toxicity and chemical content of environmental samples are expensive to perform and necessitate sophisticated equipment. Our aim is for our rapid, affordable system to replace these conventional techniques. As well as being a fraction of the cost, our biosensor system is extremely fast-acting - results are typically available within 3 hours, compared to several days, if not weeks, involved when employing more conventional procedures. The availability of technologies that enable immediate assessment at much lower costs holds enormous untapped potential in regions such as China and India.

What services do we offer?

OMB is offering a range of products and services, including several biosensors with differing functionalities, greater robustness and sensitivities than those currently on market.  The company has also developed a platform technology which enables rapid design and construction of bespoke biosensors tailored to the specific needs of the customer.  A further development is a portable device which will enable biosensor assessment to be made on site and in remote locations.  License agreements to employ our biosensors, training courses for their application and data analysis as well as consultation on best measures for remediation of contamination are also available.