Rapid enzyme based detection of toxins in food.
Small Business Information
3913 TODD LN STE 312, Austin, TX, 78744
AbstractThe safety of the public food supply is an emerging and important public health issue in the United States. Recent, widely-reported food and feed contaminations by pathogens and banned substances such as melamine have fueled an increased demand for improved assays to screen and protect the food supply. The antibody-based ELISA assay is a powerful, cost-effective method to detect trace analytes, such as banned substances, in food samples. While ELISA assays can detect many different types of banned substances, a number of low molecular weight analytes, such as melamine or histamine (a marker for seafood samples contaminated the bacteria which cause scombroid poisoning) are too small for use as antigens to develop high-quality ELISA assays. Consequently there are currently no rapid, reliable screening methods to detect many low molecular weight banned substances in food and feed supplies. In contrast to antibodies, protein enzymes can bind small molecules (MW < 100) very specifically. Surprisingly however, the potential advantages of using enzymes to detect banned substances in food and feed supplies has never been thoroughly investigated. In our Phase I research, we invented two new rapid tests to detect melamine and histamine. In Phase II, we will develop robust detection kits using theses enzyme-based assays to detect banned substances, such as melamine, in food and feed. We will also enhance our enzyme manufacturing capability to internally produce larger quantities of low cost high activity enzymes. Successful commercial development of these kits during Phase II will result in much needed improved rapid testing products for melamine and histamine and provide a solid foundation for future development of other assays using enzymes from bacteria which metabolize banned substances in the environment. These assays will be an effective new tool in developing improved procedures for comprehensive yet cost-effective screening of food samples to better ensure the safety of our food and feed supplies.
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