Collaboration Could Mean Boon for LR Firm, NCTR

by Mark Carter  on Monday, Jul. 4, 2011 12:00 am  

NCTR researcher Dan Buzatu (right) extracts a measured portion of dye to mix with a bacteria sample with help from colleague Jon Wilkes.

"If you have a perishable food product, the speed of this technology adds enormous value," said Jon Wilkes, who invented the technology with his NCTR colleague, Dan Buzatu. Together, they co-direct the Center of Excellence for Innovative Technologies at NCTR.

"We intended our research to be not just an incremental improvement, but a huge step forward," Buzatu said. "This is disruptive technology."

In addition to its use in the field of food safety, this new method can accurately diagnose infectious diseases and recognize agents used for bioterrorism. LRB is working with scientists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to develop a 30-minute tuberculosis test as well.

"LRB is not a biopharmaceutical company with one drug treating one indication for one segment of the population, which can take up to 15 years to reach commercialization for each drug," said Brian Umberson, the firm's sales and marketing manager. "Rapid-B is not a 15 to 20 percent tweak of an existing technology like so many new products. Our technology can have major impacts on the food industry and clinical testing."

For example, the Rapid-B process eliminates the need for culture plates.

"Culture plates take two to four days," he said. "Food processors have to wait for results before releasing shipments, so they can lose one to four days of shelf life and exposure in the store. Each day a product sits in a holding area instead of the consumer buying the product is extremely expensive for perishables like raw meats and vegetables."

The Rapid-B process allows producers to perform an environmental pre-test on site.

"Currently, there's a 24- to 48-hour hold and release of production" while producers await test results, Umberson said. "Our product test reduces hold-and-release timelines to six hours or less. Consider the difference in volume of chicken that can be produced in six hours versus 24 or 48 hours. Then consider the logistics of putting all of it into a hold-and-release warehouse and tracking it as it's inspected."       



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