Although the previously described HPLC methods give accurate and precise measurements of patulin levels in fruit products, they can be laborious, and their results are not attainable for at least several hours. Efforts are being made to develop immunochemical techniques for rapidly (< 30 minutes) quantifying patulin in juice products. As opposed to other mycotoxins, no commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kits are available for patulin. Production of suitable antibodies for use in ELISA kits is needed. Many research groups have attempted to produce antibodies capable of detecting patulin. Unfortunately, these efforts have not met with success.
An alternative approach for detection of patulin may be to develop methods for the synthesis of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs), highly crosslinked polymers, capable of binding specifically to patulin. During the polymerization process the template (patulin) interacts with one or more of the functional monomers present. When the template or structurally related compound is removed from the polymer, a cavity capable of binding patulin remains. Because MlPs have the advantage of high chemical and physical stability, they have been described as "plastic antibodies" and have the potential for use in place of antibodies in applications such as affinity separation assay systems and biosensors . A paper describing the synthesis of MlPs with selective binding properties for the mycotoxin ochratoxin A was published by Jodlbauer et al. . A critical component for success in MIP synthesis is the availability of compounds that can serve as mimics of the template of interest (patulin).
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