The need for faster detection of harmful pathogens in food is evident. A rapid, reliable method that can test for multiple pathogens simultaneously gives food-safety assurance to farmers, food processors, distributors, retailers and ultimately to the public. The Crystal Diagnostics MultiPath SystemTM addresses this need. The novel technology, in development since 2006, uses liquid crystals to detect multiple harmful pathogens in food in a single test, offering significant time savings over the most common testing methods.
Crystal Diagnostics introduced this new technology with a demonstration on Oct. 26 at the companyâ€™s manufacturing facility in the Kent State Centennial Research Park located at 1950 State Route 59 in Kent, Ohio. Crystal Diagnostics is the exclusive licensee of fundamental liquid crystal biosensor technologies developed jointly by a research partnership between Kent State University and Northeast Ohio Medical University, previously known as the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy.
Crystal Diagnosticsâ€™ technology includes two pieces of equipment. The first is a â€œcassetteâ€ containing five individual â€œcells,â€ two of which are control cells and three are test cells. A prepared (enriched) sample â€” from ground beef or lettuce, for example â€” is mixed with liquid crystals and an antibody or antibody â€œcocktailâ€ for the pathogen or pathogens being sought. The second piece is a â€œreader.â€ The cassette is inserted into the reader. If the pathogen or pathogens being sought are present, the liquid crystal â€” aligned in the reader â€” will be disrupted. The reader recognizes this disruption and displays the result on an iPad or other device in less than 30 minutes.
In addition to its speed, Crystal Diagnosticsâ€™ technology offers other significant advantages:
â€œThe need for faster yet highly reliable processes to detect pathogens has never been higher given the recent deadly food outbreaks,â€ said Paul Repetto, CEO of Crystal Diagnostics. â€œIn 2011, a new strain of E. coli appeared in Germany sickening thousands and killing some. Millions of pounds of meat have been recalled at great expense, and most recently 25 people died from Listeria contaminated melons. This new technology can have a profound impact on public health.â€
This fall, the equipment will be further beta-tested in the field with leading food processing companies and laboratories.