Technologies

Laboratory Quality Results in Minutes for Food Companies, Clinicians, Farmers and Environmental Workers


Abstract/Technology Overview

We have developed a proprietary analytical platform that combines tiny molecular machines (biosensors) with a compact reading device to provide minimally trained users with laboratory quality results in minutes.  Our biosensors are proteins engineered to have a customisable detector and a constant signalling module. The signalling uses bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET).  The signal is read on a microfluidic device for speed, ease of use and economy.

We developed this technology because, in many parts of the food supply chain, the standard turnaround time for obtaining laboratory test results is too slow.  When it doesn’t have timely information, the food industry wastes expensive ingredients, delays product release and exposes itself and its customers to risk. In the food industry, our target users are technical staff throughout the supply chain.

Delays in obtaining specific analytical results can also cause problems in the hospital emergency department and other parts of the healthcare system.  Our target users are ED staff, oncologists and other clinicians.

We are seeking partnerships with ingredients and food companies.  We are also reaching out to companies that provide analytical technologies or services to the agriculture and food industries and to health systems.


Technology Features, Specifications and Advantages

Our biosensor platform has three innovative aspects:

1. Our biosensors can incorporate an unparalleled range of “biological recognition elements” sourced from nature.  We draw on 3.5 billion years of protein evolution to build our biosensors and we use structure-based design and in vitro selection to refine and optimise their properties.

2.  Our biosensors use different colours of light as the transduction modality.  Technically, it is a form of long Stokes-shift bioluminescence resonance energy transfer. It doesn’t require an external light source, so light-scattering, bleed-through, and cross-talk are very low. Also, because of this choice, the working distance of our transduction method is well matched to the size of our biosensors (on a nanometre scale). The bottom line is we experience substantially better signal to noise ratios.

3.  A radical departure from most other biosensing systems is that we perform our measurements in the fluid phase.  We are not limited by the problems of slow surface regeneration nor drift over time that bedevils classic surface-based biosensing technologies.

Putting all this together, we offer an infinitely customisable biosensing platform. Across various applications in peer-reviewed publications, our approach is 10-1,000 times more sensitive than competing technologies, more selective and faster to implement.  Because of this, we have been able to take this form of biosensing out of the laboratory into a real-world environment and have it used successfully by production staff to deliver laboratory quality analytical results in minutes.


Potential Applications

The technology has a wide range of applications in quantifying trace levels (micromolar to sub-nanomolar, parts per million to sub-parts per billion) of specific chemicals, large or small. It works in an aqueous medium and is also applicable to emulsions and aqueous extracts of solids.

Early in the agrifood chain, technology has the potential to measure hormones, disease biomarkers, nutritional biomarkers, and xenobiotics like pesticides or antibiotics.

In food and beverage processing, the technology is able to measure proteases, lipases, nutrients, allergens, natural and synthetic toxins, and other quality parameters.  Because of its speed and ease-of-use, the technology is applicable to screening raw materials and refined ingredients, for real-time process optimisation in the factory, online process control, and final product release.  The technology will increase efficiency and cut costs.

In clinical medicine, our technology has the potential to close the information gap in the emergency department for example by early detection of septic shock or determining the intoxicant in overdoses.  But the human clinical potential extends beyond the emergency department, for example by improving the patient stratification and treatment choices in oncology.

Beyond this, there are numerous other applications in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and other manufacturing industries and in environmental monitoring.

Our first product, which has been successfully trialed in a production environment is a rapid on-site test for trace lactose in lactose-modified dairy products. We have also factory-tested a test for spoilage proteases.

We estimate the total addressable market for food applications alone at USD$5B pa.


Customer Benefit

The benefits of “laboratory-quality results in minutes” are substantial cost savings, improved food quality, and safety, with fewer recalls and adverse events.  Our technology will benefit customers who are currently waiting for up to a week for results to be received from an external analytical laboratory.  Our tech offers substantial cost-savings through rapid screening of incoming raw materials and ingredients, optimised use of expensive ingredients, shorter processing times, less need to re-work product and earlier release of the finished product. It will reduce the number of expensive product recalls and reduce exposure to product legal risk and encourage lower insurance premiums.

In some specific niches, this technology can also enable clinicians to perform more rapid and accurate patient diagnoses, with improved patient outcomes and cost savings.

OVERVIEW
Contact Person

Elvin Chia

Organisation

CSIRO

Technology Category
  • Monitoring System & Sensor
  • Quality / Safety
  • Diagnostics
  • Agriculture & Farming
  • Biotech Research Reagents & Tools
Technology Status
  • Licensed but Available
Technology Readiness Level
  • TRL 7
Keywords

food, diagnostics, biosensing, biosensors, food safety, food quality, clinical diagnosis, microfluidics, analysis, photonics, proteases, lactose, allergens, heavy metals, food diagnostics, dairy, clinical medicine, oncology, emergency department