Method Development for Detecting Toxins In Biological Samples

Developing techniques to measure harmful algal toxins in the human body

Principal Investigator

Kenneth Hensley, University of Toledo


Researchers at the University of Toledo are developing a method to detect microcystin compounds in human tissue.

Since harmful algal blooms are a relatively recent issue, scientists are still developing the tools needed to tell whether algal toxins or their byproducts remain in the tissue of plants, animals or humans exposed to them. Accurately measuring these toxins in urine, blood and human tissues is a necessary first step in understanding the ways in which these substances might be hazardous to health.

A research team at the University of Toledo is contributing to this effort. Led by Kenneth Hensley, an associate professor of pathology, they are refining a laboratory method to measure how much the family of algal toxins of greatest concern—the microcystins—can be found in the human body. The team is using a technique called liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry that is able to separate and quantify several different forms of microcystin as well as the related compounds that result when the body breaks them down.

The End Result

A technique that will help public health officials understand the potential health effects—neutral, negative or positive—of coming into contact with algal toxins.

Full Project Information

Read about the project at the Ohio Sea Grant website.