Canadian technology firm hails patented E.coli killer

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bacteria

Canadian firm Theralase Technologies claims that 'unprecedented destruction' of the bacterium Escherichia coli (E.coli) via a new application of its patented Photo Dynamic Compounds (PDCs) technology could revolutionise food processing equipment sterilisation.

Ontario-based technology company Theralase said that new research directed by chief scientific officer, Dr Arkady Mandel showed the capability for PDCs to destroy bacteria “when light activated”​.

Food processing equipment sterilisation is one of the principal applications identified by the firm for the company, besides medical- equipment, treatment room and implant sterilisation, the company said.

Last year Theralase targeted Listeria with its cancer-fighting PDC technology, and Roger Dumoulin-White, president and ceo said: “In developing and commercialising this new application of our…technology, Theralase plans to work with…food processing organisations, food processing equipment manufacturers…”​ as well as medical and academic concerns.

Unprecendented destruction

Asked how, if at all, Theralase had modified its PDC technology to target E.coli, a company spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.com:

“At present, we have seen an unprecedented destruction of E. coli, a complete eradication of vegetative bacteria (a 7-log kill after 10 minutes of exposure). The next step is to test our system in the established biofilm model in vitro.”

E.coli is one of the top four pathogens causing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) said Theralase, which quoted US Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics showing that this meant $45bn (€32.6bn) healthcare costs in this country and nearly 100,000 deaths a year.

The rod-shaped bacterium has also caused severe financial losses and sickness in the EU, killing at least 49 people and sickening over 4,000 this spring, while farmers in the union claimed losses of up to $611m (€442.8m) a week in May-June 2011.

Rare strains tackled

Asked what strains PDC technology could tackle – in light of the US Department of Agriculture’s announcement this week of a sale ban on ground beef containing six rare non-0157 E.coli strains – the spokesman said:

“Verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC), non-0157 strain, is not easy to obtain. However, because all E. coli strains are non-spore-forming species, we do not expect to see any surprises pertaining to efficacy of our PDT in destruction of this bacteria. In this case, the bug is the bug.”

Meanwhile, Theralase’s had seen healthy interest in its PDC technology from the food industry, the spokesman said, with “a number of food producers from Canada and the US”​ approaching the firm.

“We are also in the process of development of scientific food safety program at George Brown College in Toronto,”​ he added.

Earlier in the year, the company said it was seeking a development partner to further use of its technology within the food sector.

Asked about progress towards this end, the spokesman said: “We are in discussions with a number of companies who have shown an interest in our technology.”

Founded in 1995, Theralase develops super-pulsed laser technology utilised in “biostimulation and biodestruction applications”​, used in tandem with its PDC.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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