Cell-based biosensors (CBBs) utilize the principles of cell-based assays (CBAs) by employing living cells for detection of different analytes from environment, food, clinical, or other sources. For toxin detection, CBBs are emerging as unique alternatives to other analytical methods. The main advantage of using CBBs for probing biotoxins and toxic agents is that CBBs respond to the toxic exposures in the manner related to actual physiologic responses of the vulnerable subjects. The results obtained from CBBs are based on the toxin-cell interactions, and therefore, reveal functional information (such as mode of action, toxic potency, bioavailability, target tissue or organ, etc.
) about the toxin. CBBs incorporate both prokaryotic (bacteria) and eukaryotic (yeast, invertebrate and vertebrate) cells. To create CBB devices, living cells are directly integrated onto the biosensor platform. The sensors report the cellular responses upon exposures to toxins and the resulting cellular signals are transduced by secondary transducers generating optical or electrical signals outputs followed by appropriate read-outs. Examples of the layout and operation of cellular biosensors for detection of selected biotoxins are summarized.