Food Microbiology Diagnostics — Will 1 + 1 = 3?

Recent diagnostic company and technology pairings are creating innovative microbiology solutions for the food processing industry

Strategic Consulting has just completed a market research and publication cycle for its most recent report, Food Micro, Sixth Edition: Food Microbiology Testing in Europe. One thing is clear, the food microbiology market will see more and more partnering of companies, products and technologies to come up with solutions that meet customer requirements. It’s not always possible to get to that “best solution” based on the technologies resident at one company. Why not go out and combine strengths with others if it will result in a better solution?

A couple of new diagnostic company pairings have created synergies with the potential to deliver real innovation in food safety testing: Life Technologies’ acquisition in January of Matrix MicroScience, and a new collaboration announced in February between SDIX and BD Diagnostics, a segment of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company).

Life Technologies Acquires Matrix MicroScience

Matrix MicroScience first introduced its unique, patented sample concentration/cleanup technology over five years ago. It immediately captured the food industry’s imagination and interest because of its potential to both reduce enrichment time and help clean up the sample to enable better analysis. Because there is only so much that detection technologies can do to improve test performance, the logical progression is to enhance the sample prep phase of the analysis. Matrix clearly leads in this effort.

After a couple of product design improvements, it seems Matrix is now ready to offer a viable solution that the market will embrace.

In the meantime, Life Technologies seems to have gained some market traction over the past year or so. Their range of approved assays has increased, as has interest in their open platform instrument. However, Life is in a tough battle with other more entrenched competitors, and the market now has more than a dozen molecular platforms to choose from along with several antibody-based options.

The new STEC detection requirements are well suited to an antibody capture approach before the detection step. This approach is at the heart of BioControl’s GDS, which has significant share of the existing O157 market. Using Matrix’s technology as the front end could shorten the enrichment time as well as capture all of the possible O-types in the sample for subsequent virulence detection by Life’s molecular technology.

To date, detection companies have been hesitant to seek approvals for an approach that combines the Matrix front end with their detection method. With this acquisition, Life Technologies will certainly do so, and be able to demonstrate good sensitivity/specificity combined with reduced time-to-results.

Details of Matrix’s purchase price have not been made public so it’s difficult to comment on the performance expectations required to make this a profitable transaction.

As has been the case over the past number of years, the number of players in the food microbiology diagnostics market is shrinking. This acquisition is another example of a single-product company (Matrix) joining with a company with strong channel access (Life).

Up next, a look at the BD Diagnostics/SDIX collaboration.


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