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Luminex, Tyson Collaborate on Food Safety, Animal Health Tests

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Luminex today said that it is collaborating with Tyson Foods on the development of multiplex tests for food safety and animal health.
 
The firms will develop the tests using Luminex’s xMAP technology, and the panels will run on Luminex’s instruments. Luminex President and CEO Patrick Balthrop said in a statement that the panels “will allow the food industry to screen for pathogens and other microbes more efficiently and accurately.”
 
For Luminex, the deal marks a new application for its multiplex diagnostic technology and is the first such collaboration in the food safety or animal testing field, Balthrop told GenomeWeb Daily News today.
 
Until now, Luminex has focused most of its efforts on developing assays — or partnering with other firms that develop assays — for human health, pharmaceutical, or biomedical research applications. The firm built its business on a partnership model, but earlier this year it became more involved in developing its own assays after it purchased molecular diagnostics firm Tm Bioscience in a stock for stock deal valued at around $44 million. Tm was subsequently renamed Luminex Molecular Diagnostics.
 
The first target of the collaboration with Tyson is a panel for avian flock health monitoring, while future R&D efforts will focus on food safety and quality tests, as well as additional animal health diagnostic panels. The panel will be the first multiplex product in the food safety and animal health fields, Balthrop said.
 
Content for the panels will be driven by the needs of the industry and the requirements of regulatory agencies, said Balthrop.

Though this collaboration will provide Tyson, specifically, with tests, “we expect other companies to follow Tyson’s lead here,” Balthrop told GenomeWeb Daily News. He noted that competitors in the food industry frequently work together due to a common need to ensure that the food supply is safe.

Balthrop also said the firm may eventually have commercial relationships with the government labs that run tests required by the US Department of Agriculture.

He declined to provide a timeline for commercialization of the first test, but said that it would not be “material to us financially in 2008.”

Financial terms of the alliance were not disclosed.

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