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Veredus Laboratories Expands into Food Testing with New Lab-on-Chip Test


By Justin Petrone

Veredus Laboratories has expanded into the food-testing market with the launch of a new panel detect between 10 and 12 food-borne pathogens simultaneously, the firm said.

Based on the Singaporean company's PCR and microarray platform, the product, called VereFoodborne,runs on Veredus' VereID lab-on-chip platform, which includes a temperature control system, optical reader, software, and chip bar code reader. The platform is manufactured by STMicroelectronics.

According to Veredus, VereFoodborne can detect and differentiate food-borne pathogens including different strains of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter.

The panel also includes the Shiga toxin-producing strain of E. coli, responsible for the recent food-poisoning outbreak in Europe.

Daniel Floerke, director of sales and marketing at Veredus, said the company will market the new chip to surveillance laboratories, both public and private, as well as food manufacturers.

Certain governments in Asia are also using the chip and the firm has developed relationships with labs in Europe and the US that are considering using the product, he added. He declined to name any of Veredus' clients.

"We are talking to everyone who can use this, and we are selling the test everywhere," Floerke told BioArray News this week.

According to Floerke, Veredus will also pursue a CE-IVD mark for VereFoodborne to meet demand from clinicians who have expressed a desire to use the chip to test patients. Still, he said e CE-IVD route will "take time" due to the required clinical studies.

In the meantime, he said Veredus hopes to soon have the test certified by the Association of Analytical Communities Research Institute as a performance-tested method.

AOAC performance-tested methods status assures user that a test has undergone an independent third-party review and meets all its performance claims, according to AOAC International.

"Right now this test can be used for food and is intended for food companies and surveillance organizations within governments that are testing food," Floerke said.

Veredus began designing VereFoodborne two years ago, according to a statement, and originally said it would be ready as soon as the second quarter of 2010. (BAN 3/23/2010).

Floerke said that it took Veredus more time to select the content for the assay than previously planned.

"It took a while to determine which targets we wanted to go after, so we were talking to everyone from governments to central labs as to what they actually wanted for targets on the chip," he said. "We were zeroing in on what we wanted, and now we finally have it."

A number of firms have developed chip-based, food-testing assays. Taiwan's DR. Chip, for example, has developed arrays that are specifically used to monitor bacteria during the beer-brewing process.

But according to Floerke, VereFoodborne is faster than existing methods of food testing, which are largely based on culture, as recommended in the US Food and Drug Administration's Bacteriological Analytical Manual, referred to as BAM.

According to Floerke, VereFoodborne takes two hours to complete, while BAM methods can take up to three days.

"We extract the nucleic acid, we screen it on the panel and get results," he said.

A standard 1-inch by 3-inch VereChip contains enough real estate to host up to 500 individual probes. According to Floerke, VereFoodborne typically costs between $100 and $150 per chip.

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Test Menu

Food testing is a new market for Veredus. Founded in 2003, the firm has always designed pathogen-detection tests for humans.

It launched its first test, VereFlu, in 2008 for research and surveillance purposes. The test, which was CE-Marked last year (BAN 3/23/2010), enables researchers to detect, differentiate, and identify Influenza A H1, H3, H5, H7, H9 with subtype ID’s of H1N1, H3N2, H5N1 and H9N2 and Influenza B, according to the firm.

At the end of 2009 the company launched a second test called VereThreat, this one for research purposes only, which can identify and differentiate pathogens responsible for anthrax, smallpox, plague, and tularemia.

The company has other tests in development, and is focusing on such areas as tropical-disease testing, tuberculosis, and malaria typing, Floerke said. "For us, it is about filling our pipeline of products," he said. "We need to provide what the market needs. For us, the core value is in developing these chips."

Floerke also said that Veredus' engineering team is working with STMicroelectronics to improve the existing VereID system in ways that will increase its throughput and ease of use. VereID can currently process five chips at a time and hopes to increase the number of chips that can be run simultaneously. Floerke said the new analysis system is in its R&D phase.

Have topics you'd like to see covered in BioArray News? Contact the editor at jpetrone [at] genomeweb [.] com