Spartan Cube to bring molecular testing to handheld format

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Spartan Cube. Picture: Spartan Bioscience
The Spartan Cube. Picture: Spartan Bioscience

Related tags: Food processing plants, Dna, Molecular biology

Spartan Bioscience has unveiled the first assays for its molecular diagnostics device and promised further launches in food and water safety testing.

The Spartan Cube is a PCR-based platform that integrates DNA collection, extraction and analysis that goes from sample to result in 30 minutes.

It connects wirelessly to a tablet or laptop that displays test instructions and results.

Assay launches

The first three assays are: Strep A, Apolipoprotein E (APOE) and Legionella.

Paul Lem, CEO of Spartan Bioscience, said the strategy for the first test menu was one in each of the three verticals it is going after (infectious disease, pharmacogenetics and food and water testing).

“Now we have a device and the kit, we have been approached for all sorts of applications such as beer spoilage and Listeria testing,” ​he told FoodQualityNews.

“Our strategy is US and Europe first then Asia and after the developing countries, we are based in Canada, but they are the largest markets where we have the most sales.

“The Spartan Cube targets technicians in labs, average users in food processing plants and we have had contact with building managers about on site testing for Legionella.

“We are working towards our vision of bringing DNA testing to everyone. Taking PCR and DNA testing out of the lab to be handheld and get rapid results.”

How it works

Lem said for almost all tests from sample to result is 25-30 minutes but the workflow would be different.

“You collect a sample using a swab and put the swab in the test cartridge. You put the cartridge in the instrument which extracts and amplifies DNA using PCR and the fluorescent probes light up if what you are looking for is there and you see the result on the tablet,” ​he said.

“The cartridge has three tubes so you could do three organisms if you wanted to. Very few companies provide the sample and results device in one box; you don’t have to put the pieces together yourself.”

Every test kit has a barcode and when scanned the tablet attached to the cube runs the appropriate program.

Spartan Bioscience received an undisclosed strategic investment from Canon USA last year and said it would benefit from the technical support and field technicians they have worldwide.

Industry doesn’t want to wait for results, send samples to a big lab or have lots of technicians, said Lem.

“This time next year, I hope it will be in hands and people using it realise ‘this is what I have been waiting for all this time; this is actually now possible’ and there is no need to wait for a culture result or need to send to samples to a lab,” ​he said.

“It can revolutionise diagnostics, like an iPhone it is on that scale, nobody goes back to checking your mail on the computer when you have it on your iPhone, DNA is the original information technology and with the test it is in the palm of your hand.”

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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