Sample6 has been absolutely rolling in the first four months of 2014, but, surprisingly, I don’t think the company has garnered the attention it deserves. While the company has a long road ahead and certainly doesn’t want to hype its platform, I don’t think it hurts to update the community on all of the momentum-building events that have unfolded this year.
Sample6 has developed an enrichment-free pathogen diagnostic system that takes advantage of the natural function of bacteriophages: hunting down bacteria. The assays that power the Bioillumination Platform can be explained quite simply. Phages are engineered to find specific pathogenic bacteria, such as those hailing from the genus Listeria, and force the harmful cells to express the luminescent protein, luciferase. If the assay lights up when a worker inserts it into a desktop device, then Listeria microbes are present. When used in conjunction with Sample6 CONTROL, the company’s proprietary analytical software, workers can determine if cell populations are above or below safety guidelines and act accordingly.
The system can be housed on-site (on a single table, actually) and provide in-shift results, which marks a significant improvement over current industry methods for pathogen detection.
Don’t worry; the food industry is inherently safe. There are numerous steps taken to ensure manufacturing, shipping, and sorting facilities are sanitary and in compliance with guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, food producers must often make the decision between waiting several days for results from swab tests and shipping food to maximize shelf-life. That means tainted food makes its way into our food system from time to time. Sample6 wants to provide companies with a more robust testing system.
MoMo for Sample6
What has the company accomplished thus far in 2014? Manufacturing was churning out phages for initial shipments of tests to customers and prospective customers when I toured Sample6 in mid-February. Not far from manufacturing, there were boxes piled from the floor to the ceiling waiting to be shipped. The company recorded its first customer sale a little over one month later on March 28th. While it may have been more symbolic than significant, it marks an impressive milestone for a company that raised just over $17 million from investors. Has synthetic biology finally arrived?
On April 9th Sample6 announced that DETECT/L, its first assay for Listeria bacteria, was awarded AOAC Certification from the AOAC Research Institute’s Performance Tested Methods Program. The certification, considered the “gold standard” for food safety diagnostics, verified that Sample6 DETECT/L is more sensitive than USDA Microbiological Laboratory Guide Method 8.09, which is the reference method for detecting Listeria in the environment. CEO Tim Curran noted:
The AOAC Certification is an outstanding validation of our Bioillumination Platform. It’s clear that the food industry considers consumer safety the highest priority based on the resounding support of our pilot program — the food companies involved played a critical role in helping us reach this milestone. Our goal is for DETECT/L and CONTROL to become a standard step in the safety procedures of food companies around the globe to keep food and consumers safer.
Well, it seems that Sample6 is well on its way to making our food system safer. Inventory has grown. Customer sales have begun. The first DETECT product has earned AOAC Certification. Several important milestones have been reached in the first four months of 2014. What will the next eight months bring?0