CORDIS - EU research results

CellCount, a revolutionary technology platform to solve current problems with microbiological contamination in water and food industries.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CellCount (CellCount, a revolutionary technology platform to solve current problems with microbiological contamination in water and food industries.)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2018-02-28

Hundreds of millions of samples are tested each year to detect harmful bacteria in drinking and environmental water, food and beverages. Pathogens such as Legionella, Pseudomonas, Giardia/Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli, cause diseases and lead to enormous economic damage. Food recalls can cause damage sometimes exceeding USD 100 million for the affected companies. To prevent this, billions of microbiological tests are carried out each year to assure the safety of products, environment and infrastructure. For example, Legionnaires disease – a severe pneumonia with a significant mortality rate caused by the Legionella pathogen which isfound in freshwater environments worldwide and tend to contaminate man-made water systems – was reported to affect 5,500-6,500 people annually in the EU/EEA countries between 2005 and 2010. Common testing methods in microbiology need up to 14 days to give semi-quantitative data. Operations may need to be halted until the source of contamination can be located. The waiting period for these test methods are costly as they leave inventory in quarantine and do not prevent regular recalls.

rqmicro has developed the CellCount solution for microbiological testing composed of the rqmicro’s proprietary device and disposable testing kits (consumables) for pathogens in food and water. CellCount reduces the time significantly by providing unequivocal, quantitative results allowing users to act immediately. With it's single cell-counting capability, users have peace of mind that the rapid results are also reliable. It involves an automated one-step operation that does not require qualified personnel and eliminates operator bias thereby improving workflows for customers.

The overall objectives of the project are to complete product development (instrument and kit optimisation), test it with accredited laboratories and demonstrate the completed platform technology with potential customers.
During the feasibility assessment, rqmicro completed a full analysis of the technical and business potential of CellCount. rqmicro expanded its knowledge on CellCount’s capability, the water and food safety market and different customer segments. A sound business model and commercialisation strategy was established for the anticipated market launch. rqmicro also identified key partners and outlined the scope of the activities to complete the product development, readying it for market launch.
Improving food and water safety will have a significant societal impact and also presents a large economic opportunity for rqmicro. CellCount performance is far superior when compared to the classical microbiological approaches of plating and cultivation. CellCount's analysis of the sample at the single cell level and the discrimination of viable cells from dead cells, place the test system in the position to become the new gold standard in pathogen detection and quality control. So far only rqmicro is able to achieve superior background-to-noise discrimination when working with environmental or food matrices. Pathogen detection technologies have been competing along the classical trade-off of speed versus analytical quality. rqmicro’s approach breaks the trade-off and delivers not only unmatched time to result but also analytical quality (single cell count, cell viability detection). In addition, rqmicro is able to offer test kits at a price which is very competitive when compared to current convenient and rapid methods.
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