Biodetection Instruments has recently been awarded a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) Phase I grant by the Food and Drug Administration. The $150,000 grant, awarded Sept. 10, supports BioDetection Instruments in the development of an automated food pathogen screening system with integrated sample concentration. The Phase I study will focus on the detection of Salmonella in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods with Salmonella Typhimurium as a model pathogen.
BioDetection Instruments is developing an integrated system for rapid and sensitive screening of foodborne pathogens in a sample-in-answer-out format. The system is based on integration of patented sample preparation technology and patent-pending self-contained microfluidic assay cartridge technology. The automated system can address the limitations of current microbial detection methods, e.g., laboriousness and tediousness (culture methods), complexity and high skill requirement (PCR), lack of sensitivity (lateral flow immuno-strip tests) or specificity (conventional ATP bioluminescence). The system will be fully automated, requiring minimal operator training.
The U.S. enjoys one of the safest food supplies in the world, but contamination of food products by microbial pathogens remains a major concern of our society. It is estimated that contaminated food causes 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Nontyphoidal Salmonella, e.g., Salmonella Typhimurium, is one of the top five pathogens causing foodborne illnesses in the United States. To prevent the introduction of contaminated food products into the food supply chain, monitoring of foodborne pathogens is a critical control point. Unfortunately, currently detection of bacterial pathogens in food and other matrices still heavily relies on culture methods, which are extremely time-consuming, often taking up to 48 hours or more. Rapid and sensitive detection of bacterial pathogens in food products will help prevent foodborne infections and thus help protect the public health. It will also help reduce medical costs and productivity losses.
Although research associated with this grant focuses on the detection of viable Salmonella, the technology is applicable to other foodborne pathogens, and has broad commercial utility.