STTR Phase I: Engineered Bacteriophage Based Biosensor for Rapid Detection of Viable Foodborne Pathogens

Period of Performance: 01/01/2007 - 12/31/2007


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Biodetection Instruments, LLC
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Arkansas
210 Administration Building
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Institution POC


This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project demonstrates the feasibility for the development of an innovative biosensor system for rapid and sensitive detection of viable foodborne pathogens. The core technology of the proposed system is to introduce a genetically engineered material, as a cell viability reporter, a signal amplifier, and a detection marker, into a proprietary biosensor platform that has demonstrated high capture efficiency for food pathogens. E. coli K12 was chosen as a nonpathogenic model of E. coli O157:H7 for the Phase I feasibility study. Phase II research will expand to detect viable pathogens in real-world food samples. Collectively, a commercial prototype will be developed that allows for on-site detection of viable food pathogens.The broader impact of this research will be to provide better methods to assure food safety for the general public. Current practices for ensuring food safety rely upon rapid identification and effective control of specific pathogens from farm to fork. However, the detection of viable food pathogens still relies on the traditional cell growth based methods, which are laborious and tedious, requiring at least 24 hours. Currently available rapid methods such as ELISA and PCR are both unable to distinguish viable from dead cells, and the inability may have significant consequences for the food processing industry. The proposed technology will be valuable to the commercial sector for routine analysis and to the governmental sector to monitor for and trace the source of accidental or intentional contamination of the food supply.