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Bio-Check UK Ltd, Bangor University and Tyndall National Institute

ALLERGIES are on the rise and high-profile fatalities have highlighted the importance for food manufacturers, caterers and retailers to be sure of what goes in their products.

This has resulted in a demand for food allergen detection kits and a Welsh company has teamed up with scientists to enhance its own range of rapid test kits, which are similar to a pregnancy test.

St Asaph-based Bio-Check (UK) Ltd is now able to make coated gold nanoparticles used in the manufacture of these kits instead of having to source expensively from elsewhere. The nanoparticles are what show up if allergens are found, as a line would do on a positive pregnancy test.

The project with Celtic Advanced Life Science Innovation Network (Calin) at Bangor University and Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Ireland has helped with in-house production and scale up of nanoparticle preparation, to match the increase in demand. The kits are then produced in-house using relatively simple readily-available raw materials.

“We test for allergens such as peanut, milk and egg proteins and cereal gluten in food,” said Phil Goodwin, managing director of Bio-Check. “Retailers and manufacturers are quite rightly concerned to ‘get it right’ so we try to make the tests as quick, simple, yet effective, as we can”.

“We produce hundreds of thousands of tests per year and have incorporated within our manufacturing procedures the exact process Calin has managed to invent”. “It has reduced our costs significantly because although it is a more complex process than the kind we used to buy; it is more easily scalable. For us it’s been a great success”.

Bio-Check already has many decades of experience in the field of in vitro diagnostic testing for medical diagnostics and research, pharmaceutical analysis and food testing applications and also plans to move into veterinary diagnostics.

But using the knowledge and skills at Bangor University - who specialise in biosensors, diagnostic devices and the use of nanoparticles - alongside Tyndall’s nanobiotechnology and nano-devices expertise, it has enabled them to take the next step to internalise and scale-up key processes. The project was carried out under the guidance of Dr Chris Gwenin’s research group at Bangor University utilising their ideas and know-how to come up with a successful solution.

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