Phage-mediated detection of Bacillus anthracis on deliberately contaminated fresh foods
Small Business Information
Guild Associates, Inc.
1313 West Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC, 29407
Robert Freeburn, II
AbstractBacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, is a category A bioterrorist pathogen that is classed as the most likely weapon used in a bioterrorist attack. Although this pathogen is not a common contaminant on foods, the deliberate contamination of ready to eat foods, or minimally processed foods is of vital concern since: (i) anthrax spores, which are the infectious and weaponized form, are resistant to chemical and physical insult and are difficult to decontaminate using conventional food sanitizers (ii) the ready to eat contaminated food will not be cooked, and therefore, will not experience the protective benefit of heating, and (iii) gastrointestinal anthrax, caused by the ingestion of contaminated foods, is very difficult to diagnose and without antibiotics, results in high mortality. Consequently, detection methodologies that can quickly, and specifically detect the presence of B. anthracis on deliberately contaminated foods are urgently needed. This proposal will generate the proof of principal studies for a novel light producing phage that specifically detects B. anthracis on contaminated foods. The aim is to generate a phage detection system that: (i) bioluminesces if B. anthracis is present (ii) detects viable cells only (iii) requires only minimal exogenous consumables (iv) will be environmentally friendly and cheap to produce (v) can be visually assessed using a hand held illumination device, and (vi) kills B. anthracis following detection (Phase II). This research will enhance food safety, but will also be directly beneficial to the Federal Government for the detection and decontamination of anthrax-contaminated buildings and offices.
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