Monday, February 22, 2016

Oh, patents! Portable Gluten sensor

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Celiac disease affects more than 2 million people in the US. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease that damages the lining of the small intestine, preventing the absorption of key nutrients. It is triggered by gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some products such as vitamins and lip balms.  Thus, people with Celiac disease cannot ingest, even a tiny amount of gluten. [NIH-NIDDKD]

The detection of gluten in food at best involves the analysis of food labels or questioning the people who prepare food. Otherwise, the known and highly effective methods of gluten detection involve the multi-step analysis of a food sample, a process which is best suited for laboratories or food manufacturing plants, considering the apparatus, the solvents, and time required to perform the tests.

The 6SensorLabs Nima portable gluten sensor thus responds to a real personal and household need for gluten analysis.  The device consists of a triangular reader with an insertion port for a single use analysis capsule, into which the food sample is inserted for mixing with a solvent. The analysis of the food sample takes less that 2 minutes, and the device can detect less than 20 parts per million, which is the cutoff point for a gluten-free label.  When the analysis is complete, the Nima reader displays a happy face for gluten-free and a sad face for the presence of gluten. Gluten analysis is now as easy as that!

This invention is disclosed in a family of 6 patent applications:

US2014295406 (A1) ― 2014-10-02 - Portable device for detection of harmful substances
CN105209912 (A) ― 2015-12-30 - Portable device for detection of harmful substances
EP2979092 (A1) ― 2016-02-03 - A portable device for detection of harmful substances 
US2015011020 (A1) ― 2015-01-08 - System and method for detection of target substances 
WO2014160861 (A1) ― 2014-10-02 - A portable device for detection of harmful substances
WO2015147911 (A1) ― 2015-10-01 - System and method for detection of target substances

As you will notice in the titles of the patents, the scope of the invention applies beyond the detection of gluten to the detection of substances, termed alternatively “target substances” or “harmful substances”. This means that with a capsule containing the right solvent, trace amounts of a wider variety of food or cosmetic allergens could be detected, with this portable device. Accordingly, US2014295406, for example, recites the following lists of potential target analytes:  
“…caffeine, phenylalanine, aspartame, MSG, heavy metals, artificial flavors, and artificial colors [..] pathogens including bacteria, viruses, fungus, yeast, pesticides, and other toxins, or from the group of dietary units including fat, protein, sugar, sodium, cholesterol, vitamins, and minerals.”

Below, the Abstract for US2014295406 titled Portable device for detection of harmful substances, is included.
 A self-contained apparatus and methods for detecting the presence of any specified substance in any medium. A sample of the medium is placed in a capsule, along with a solvent and a sensor configured to test for a target analyte. The solvent comes into contact with the medium in the capsule, and the capsule is agitated to create a dispersion in the solvent of a portion of any target analyte present in the medium. A release mechanism configured to cause conduction of the dispersion to the sensor, so that the sensor produces an indication of presence of the target analyte if the target analyte is present in the medium. The apparatus uses a disposable capsule where the medium in question is placed and the disposable capsule is placed inside a reader and analyzed for presence of the harmful substance. [Abstract US2014295406]
And below, an image of the marketed Nima Gluten sensor is included, as well as a figure drawing of the analysis capsule inserted into the device, extracted from the drawings appended to US2014295406.

Whether for people affected with Celiac disease, or for those with severe allergies, this is a potentially life-saving device.

Celiac disease
NIH-NIDDKD – Celiac Disease
6SensorLabs Nima Gluten sensor

1 comment:

tonyon said...
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