It Doesn’t Have To Be Molecular To Be A Good Pathogen Test

The Vidas UP Salmonella combines phage technology and a simplified process to improve specificity and speed results.

bioMerieux’s Vidas UP Salmonella test is good. It’s easy to use, provides excellent sensitivity/specificity, is fast and isn’t as expensive as comparable molecular methods. What’s not to like?

I spoke recently with Stan Bailey, Director of Scientific Affairs for bioMerieux Industry. Stan indicated that things have gone well since the product launch in June 2011, with the Vidas UP Salmonella exceeding even its high prelaunch expectations.

First a little about the test: bioMerieux uses phage technology for target capture. Given the unique specificity capability of phage, the VIDAS UP Salmonella’s performance is excellent. In addition, bioMerieux enhances the enrichment buffer with a supplement that eliminates the need for secondary enrichment. Following enrichment, there is a single transfer step prior to detection.

This combination of technology and design yields several benefits. With only one enrichment and one transfer step, VIDAS UP Salmonella is very easy to run and can provide final results in around 20 hours, depending on food matrix. In addition, the test has AOAC approval on a range of food matrixes. Just this week, AOAC announced that this approval has been extended to 375 g samples on certain key food matrixes.

There were 46.2 million pathogen tests performed in the US in 2010, and Salmonella was the leading pathogen tested. Clearly Salmonella is an important market niche.

This test can be run on existing Vidas systems in the industrial market, an installed base that SCI estimates to be more than 2,500 systems. Swapping out other versions of Vidas Salmonella assays certainly represents a good revenue base to start, but Stan indicated that 60-70% of revenues for the new assay represent new business for bioMerieux. That certainly speaks to the advantages of this assay over its competition. Stan went on to indicate that some of the new business is FSMA generated since preparation for that regulation is driving testing.

When researching Food Micro—5, SCI found that there were 46.2 million pathogen tests performed in the US in 2010, and that Salmonella was the leading pathogen tested. Clearly Salmonella is an important market niche. It’s no surprise then, that there 10+ molecular methods along with several antibody-based methods currently available. How will the Vidas UP Salmonella stack up against these companies/methods? For example, will the automation and total cost of ownership of the Roka Atlas be too compelling to large volume test locations? Will the new molecular methods from 3M and/or Neogen be better solutions for small to mid-sized organizations?

It is worth mentioning that there is some talk of bioMerieux coming out with a molecular pathogen test method. Which begs the question, why, if this product is doing so well? Are the food companies and contract testing labs continuing to move away from non-molecular test methods and insisting on molecular methods instead? That’s what the data in Food Micro—5 indicates.

If bioMerieux does come out with a molecular method, what approach will they use? They appear to have at least three or four options available. And if they do produce a molecular method, what will it mean to the Vidas UP Salmonella test?

Find more more information on the Vidas UP Salmonella here.

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