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Investment boost for pathogen detection tech

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By Joe Whitworth+

Last updated on 01-Jul-2014 at 10:53 GMT

Picture: Ohio State Uni. Artist impression of ProteoSense handheld meter and sensors
Picture: Ohio State Uni. Artist impression of ProteoSense handheld meter and sensors

ProteoSense has received an investment in its sensor to detect proteins markers in pathogens targeted at food safety in fresh produce.

The Columbus-based spinout of The Ohio State University received an undisclosed investment from the $1m Technology Concept Fund and a $100,000 Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-up Fund grant earlier this year .

Using ProteoSense’s handheld testing system, the RapidScanTM, customers can test produce for pathogens before it ships to retailers and receive rapid and precise results rather than having to send samples to a lab and wait three or four days for similar results.

The sensor technology was invented by Ohio State College of Engineering and College of Medicine researchers and is focussing initially on Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria.

The ProteoSense device

Mark Byrne, ProteoSense president and CEO, said it provides speed, accuracy and ease of use.

“Customers will purchase a meter and sensor cartridges for the bacteria they want to detect. The meter resembles a smart phone and has a plug-in single use sensor," he said.

“Customers turn it on, apply a liquid sample and results are ready in minutes with high accuracy. It’s designed to be easy to use, cost effective and highly reliable.”

Under the Food Safety Modernization Act, which Congress passed in 2010, requirements for insuring food safety are becoming much more rigorous.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is finalizing rules and regulations for the fresh produce sector, which will require growers, processors, shippers and wholesalers to demonstrate they can prevent food contamination and monitor the safety of their products.

This mandate will create a new market segment that ProteoSense’s technology is well-positioned to serve, said the firm.

Funding boost

Funding will allow the company to produce the next generation of prototypes and demonstrate the technology in both food safety and medical applications, obtaining the critical proof needed to raise additional capital.

“The Technology Concept Fund and the Third Frontier grant provide critical early stage capital to startups like us,” said Byrne, an Ohio State engineering alum and entrepreneur who has led startups for thirteen years.

“We are fortunate to be building our company in Columbus where state resources, investment from the university, and commercialization services from TechColumbus all come together to help entrepreneurs accelerate their companies growth and success.

“Initially we will rent space in TechColumbus, and long-term we see this as a company that can grow and put down a foothold down in Ohio and sell products worldwide.”

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