Sample6 pathogen detection system gets funding boost

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/SIphotography
©iStock/SIphotography

Related tags: Escherichia coli, Salmonella

Sample6 has closed a $12.7m Series C funding round to help scale-up commercialization of its pathogen detection system.

It was led by Acre Venture Partners, new investor Valley Oak Investments and existing contributors Canaan Partners and Cultivian Sandbox Ventures.

The synthetic biology diagnostic company has clients including Smithfield and Saputo and is the de-facto test centre for Unilever ice cream North America.

Sample6 also recently revealed​ it is working with the US Food and Drug Administration through a Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

Finished product testing

Dr Michael Koeris, Sample6 co-founder and VP of research, development and manufacturing, has been appointed CEO.

Former CEO Tim Curran will continue to be a senior strategic advisor to the company.

Koeris said the funding will help round out the product portfolio and break into finished product testing.

“Our aspiration is to launch food testing products in 2017 for Salmonella and Listeria and E. coli O157 in late 2017 or 2018. Salmonella for environmental is a smaller market but a relevant one as well,” ​he said.

“We manufacture the test ourselves and are shipping close to 4,000 a month and we have 40 customers in the US and Canada.

“The time to result is six hours, with finished product testing we are looking at the same scope, any test that takes longer than 10 hours becomes a next day test, there are a few 24 hour labs, but our test is within one shift.

“For sensitivity, you can’t release a test without AOAC approval, or you can but people won’t buy it, we have been shown to be superior to the USDA test method.”

Koeris said over the last six years it has raised $32m and is hoping to break even by 2018.

Test and software

The DETECT/L Listeria-testing product works with the cloud-based CONTROL analytics system.

It works by swabbing a surface with a sponge and putting it in a bag, add the Sample6 solution to the bag, incubate at 30 degrees, transfer liquid from the sponge and centrifuge and read results.

The iPad CONTROL app connects to the luminometer and can walk the user through the workflow based on the programmed schedule of the day with a green result being negative and red positive.

It is $16 per test including the sponge, pipettes and media with kits coming in multiples of 10. The minimum contract is one year and premium options are available.

Koeris said it is important to remember the software part of the technology.

“Food safety professionals are starting to realise how siloed and invisible different types of data are and draw on the fact that they don’t know as much as they could or don’t have as good insights into the total food safety performance for the entire organisation,” ​he said.

“Control makes sure data is visible and makes sure it all hangs together, it’s clear and you can say ‘here’s the data, we have it’. There is a lot of good work by safety and quality departments if you make that visible and measured it can be used to improve processes.”

Koeris is also the founder of BiotechStart.org, a non-profit, free resource for turning scientific discoveries into biotechnology start-ups.

Prior to Sample6, he held roles at Flagship Ventures, McKinsey & Co. and KPMG Consulting. A visiting scholar with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Koeris holds multiple patents.

Sam Kass of Acre Venture Partners said: “It has the potential to create a paradigm shift - from days-long wait times before action could be taken, to in-shift testing with immediate remediation following​.”

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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