Marshfield Clinic has developed a new polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based testing technology to detect food-borne illness. This PCR technology provides results in as little as 12 hours once a sample is received, according to Jay L.E. Ellingson, Ph.D., director, Food Safety Services, Marshfield Clinic.

“Although PCR testing technology has been available for the last two decades, rapid real-time quantitative PCR is recognized as the latest technology innovation,” Ellingson said.

Marshfield Clinic Food Safety Services uses the Roche LightCycler, an instrument using fluoroscence resonance energy transfer (FRET) hybridization probe technology for rapid and specific detection of target DNA. This eliminates the need for gel electrophoresis. In addition to real-time quantification of DNA, the instrument also uses melting curve analysis for target DNA and provides a level of confirmation not seen in other PCR processes, according to Ellingson.

Marshfield Clinic Food Safety Services has patents pending on DNA sequences for Enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), pathogenic Salmonella species and Listeria monocytogenes. The company has been working with The Rosen Meat Group, a Minnesota-based company, in implementing this technology for use by the meat industry.

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