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Rapid enzyme-based assays to detect banned substances in food

Award Information

Department of Agriculture
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2008 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
BIOO Scientific
7050 Burleson Rd. Austin, TX 78744-3202
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2008
Title: Rapid enzyme-based assays to detect banned substances in food
Agency: USDA
Contract: N/A
Award Amount: $80,000.00


It is important to test the food supply for known toxic or banned substances which can impinge public safety. While a number of high-throughput tests have been developed to screen the food supply for higher molecular weight banned substances, it has been difficult to develop methods to comprehensively screen the food supply for low molecular weight banned substances such as histamine or pentachlorophenol. We must rely on low throughput methods to detect these banned substances in the food supply. Consequently, only a small percentage of the relevant food supply is being screened for low toxic substances such as histamine. Enzymes could potentially be a valuable solution to this problem since they can detect low molecular compounds with high precision and they can readily be adapted for high throughput assays using relatively inexpensive equipment such as a microplate reader. In our Phase I research we will develop enzyme based tests for banned substances for which there are currently no sensitive high-throughput detection assays (histamine and pentachloropenol). We will first use oxidoreductase enzymes to develop a fluorescence-based microplate assay to rapidly detect the presence of low (< 1 ppm) levels of histamine in seafood samples. Secondly, we will use another enzyme to develop a sensitive microplate-based test to detect the presence of pentachlorophenol in food samples. By developing tests to detect these two toxic compounds in food samples, we will have demonstrated the feasibility of this approach as a new commercial platform for the development of cost-effective tests for the high throughput detection of low molecular banned substances which are currently difficult to detect (in practice) in our food supply.

Principal Investigator:

Joseph Wang

Business Contact:

Sam Sun
Small Business Information at Submission:

3913 TODD LN STE 312 Austin, TX 78744

EIN/Tax ID: 870781993
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No