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Food Toxicity Detection Using C. elegans

Award Information

Department of Defense
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2011 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Agave BioSystems, Inc.
401 E. State Street Suite 200 Ithaca, AK 14850-
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2011
Title: Food Toxicity Detection Using C. elegans
Agency: DOD
Contract: W81XWH-10-C-0213
Award Amount: $750,000.00


Current toxicity testing of foodstuffs involves mass spectrometry analysis which requires a>24 h turnaround time in deployed military operations. This length of time is dangerous for personnel. Rapid identification of toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) in food using a sensor that is biologically-based and easy to use eliminates that danger and would provide exactly what is needed for toxicity evaluation of food. In this Phase II, Agave BioSystems proposes to develop a rapid and accurate biosensor prototype using mutant C. elegans to evaluate toxicity in food. This biosensor will use the nematode C. elegans as the model system and measure Green fluorescent protein (GFP) that has been linked to inducible promoters of genes responsive to specific stressors. Extended shelf life will be possible because the dauer stage within the lifecycle of C. elegans leaves the worm in stasis for extended periods of time until growth is resumed with improved conditions. By measuring the GFP response in a mixed population of mutant C. elegans, the outcome should be an accurate and sensitive assessment of chemical toxicity in food.

Principal Investigator:

Kathie Berghorn
Staff Scientist
(607) 272-0002

Business Contact:

Noe Salazar
(512) 656-6200
Small Business Information at Submission:

Agave BioSystems, Inc.
P.O. Box 100 Ithaca, NY -

EIN/Tax ID: 161551819
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: Yes
HUBZone-Owned: Yes