U.S. Patent Issued to Tuskegee University Researchers for More Accurate Detection of Viable Microbes
By Anissa L. Riley
TUSKEGEE, Ala. (January
5, 2017) - Tuskegee University researchers in the College of Veterinary
Medicine (CVM) have a major accomplishment to be proud of with the
issuing of the United States Patent no. 9434976 for the rapid and more
reliable detection of viable foodborne, biothreat pathogens and other
infectious microbes using modified Polymerase Chain Reaction sample
preparation. The researchers credited with this time-saving invention
are Dr. Teshome Yehualaeshet, Dr. Temesgen Samuel, Dr. Woubit S. Abdela,
and Dr. Tsegaye Habtemariam, all four faculty members in the CVM’s
Department of Pathobiology.
It was just two years
earlier that three of these researchers were credited with the issuing
of a U.S. patent that allowed for the most time-saving method of
determining food threat agents and foodborne pathogens in such items as
meat, milk, and vegetables.
“As with our previous
patent, we are again advancing research in microbe detection. This time
what is so unique about the discovery is not only do we save time but we
also improve the accuracy of a technique by enabling the detection of
viable or living organisms,“ said Dr. Teshome Yehualaeshet, principal
investigator for this research project funded by the National Center for
Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD) currently renamed as Food
Protection and Defense Institute (FPDI). Drs. Samuel, Abdela, and
Habtemariam served as the co-investigators.
FPDI is one of the
Homeland Security Centers of Excellence located at the University of
Minnesota–Twin Cities which supports a multidisciplinary,
action-oriented research consortium to safeguard the food system
comprehensively from farm to table. Tuskegee University is one of the
minority institutes generously funded from the FPDI.
Dr. Francis (Frank) F.
Busta, founding director and currently director emeritus for the FPDI,
congratulates the research success and the novelty of the invention. Dr.
Busta has supported the research at the Tuskegee University CVM and has
been instrumental from the inception to the approval process of the
viable and dead cells is an important challenge in microbial
diagnostics. The two commonly used techniques for detecting viable
microorganisms are culture and nucleic acid-based techniques. The
traditional culture-based test is time-consuming. As well, some
organisms are not easily culturable or may not even grow on a culture.
Therefore, the molecular technique is rapid and it detects the presence
of unique DNA sequence in the sample with a potential to identify more
The commonly used
molecular technique to detect microorganism is Polymerase Chain Reaction
(PCR). “The main drawback of PCR is that it detects the DNA both from
dead and viable organisms,“Yehualaeshet said. However, the Tuskegee
University CVM researchers’ patent enables detecting only the viable
organisms which saves time and increases accuracy.
“During the sample
preparation for PCR, we used a safe compound which will be ideal as a
routine detection protocol for the presence of viable organisms. This
invention will be mainly beneficial, but not limited, to the food
industry to monitor biological decontamination, disinfection or the
Abdela, Samuel and Habtemariam are to be commended for their scientific
contributions to advance innovations in research that have led to this
outstanding discovery. Once again, our researchers are continuously
demonstrating that Tuskegee University has a record of accomplishments
that make an impact on the world,“ said Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of the
Tuskegee University CVM.
To learn more about the
research being done at the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary
Medicine, visit www.onemedicine.tuskegee.edu and www.tuskegee.edu.