Detection tool for Arsenic Exposure


Florida International University (FIU) is pursuing a business partner interested in developing and commercializing a Detection tool for Arsenic Exposure. This tool relays on gene expression of the microbiome as a biomarker of arsenic exposure. FIU inventors have developed a technique using quantitative PCR as a measurement tool for the expression of genes that can be used as biomarkers for detection of arsenic exposure. Arsenic is a pervasive carcinogen, and as more human populations are exposed to levels exceeding the EPA and WHO maximum levels of 10 ppb there is a considerable need for biomarkers capable of measuring arsenic.

Current biomarkers are capable of measuring levels of inorganic and methylated arsenic, in blood, urine, and feces.  Furthermore, detection requires expensive instrumentation, is slow and, is only capable of indirectly measuring exposure.

The new technique developed by FIU researchers allows for detection of exposure to arsenic using genes that are located in bacteria and fungi that are part of the human gut, dermal and, respiratory biomes. This method is highly sensitive, and detection is completed much faster and inexpensively as it does not require the use of ICP-MS. Many of the genes used as biomarkers in this method code for enzymes that metabolize arsenicals, and their expression may also serve as biomarkers of arsenic biotransformation into more toxic and carcinogenic species.


There is human exposure to arsenic in the mining and, agricultural industry. There is also environmental exposure through arsenicals that are used in chemotherapeutic and anti-infective agents. Many foods such as rice are often also very high in arsenic. This tool facilitates quick detection of exposure of arsenic alerting to potential dangerous exposure.

The novel biomarkers of arsenic exposure can be used diagnostically for susceptibility to arsenic-related diseases including lung cancer, bladder cancer, and skin cancer, along with cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

  • Assays are sensitive able to detect arsenic at (<1 ppb).
  • Provides a direct and rapid same day detection
  • Facilitates inexpensive detection of arsenic.

For additional information about this technology opportunity, please contact Elizabeth Garami at or by phone at 305-348-0008 and ask about record IP 1415.