InteliSpark client Sample6 Technologies has been awarded a $1 million Phase II SBIR grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The award is for the project “Adaptation Of An Enrichment-Free Listeria Diagnostic To Food Matrices” Sample6 is a company who is dedicated to revolutionize food safety through science, software and passion. The company shifts food safety from reaction to prevention through the use of in-shift pathogen diagnostics paired with powerful analytics. The tools they create are delivered to food processors, retailers and consumers.
Millions of Americans are effected by foodborne illness each year. The illness impact the gastrointestinal microflora resulting in dysbiosis and increasing the risk of other illnesses such as namely irritable bowel syndrome, kidney failure, pancreatitis and diabetes. In fact, diabetics are at an increased risk of developing foodborne illness to begin with and take longer to recover. In 2014 there were 19,542 laboratory confirmed infections, 4,445 hospitalizations and 71 deaths from foodborne illness.
The cause of these illnesses is due to contaminated food that enter the public supply due to lack of detection at the manufacturing/packaging plant, distribution warehouse or retail location. The current tests are ineffective because they require a prolonged enrichment step to decrease the likelihood of false negatives and false positives. This causes a delay in providing actionable results to the food processor leaving them with two choices. They can either store the products for longer until they get the test results back, resulting in older, lower-quality food or sending the products out to the public before receiving the test results putting the public at risk of food contamination.
Under the SBIR project, Sample6 is developing the world’s first enrichment-free foodborne pathogen detection system. DETECT/L is a rapid screening that will detect single Listeria spp. cell in less than seven hours. Sample6’s exclusive Bioillumination platform will allow for speedy turnaround enabling food manufacturers and packagers to quickly detect any contamination and solely retain the products at risk.
However, food can become contaminated later on in the supply chain during production, shipping, or in wholesale and retail environments. It is important to develop a second test to prevent this. The Phase II study will continue the work begun in Phase I to adapt the DETECT/L for finished product testing.