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PositiveID Expands Testing of Firefly Dx PCR Chip to Food Safety Market, Detecting E. coli in Less Than 20 Minutes

PositiveID Corporation, a developer of biological detection and diagnostics solutions, today announced that it has successfully detected Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria on the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) chip of its Firefly Dx prototype handheld, real-time PCR pathogen detection system, in less than 20 minutes.

E. coli is a common pathogen that can cause diarrhea or other illness outside of the intestinal tract. The types of E. coli that cause diarrhea can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or people. These toxin-producing bacteria are called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli ("STEC"). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 265,000 STEC infections occur each year in the United States. Some types of STEC can cause severe disease, including bloody diarrhea and hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a type of kidney failure that can lead to death.

Firefly Dx is designed to provide real-time, accurate diagnostic results in a handheld device, thereby leading to treatment scenarios at the point of need that are not possible with existing systems, which require lab-based equipment and can take hours or even days to provide results. Firefly's applications include point-of-need, lab-quality, detection of pathogenic organisms; agricultural screening in both domestic sectors and developing countries; and detection of biological agents associated with weapons of mass destruction.

"We are developing Firefly Dx to solve the critical need for rapid, portable, pathogen detection using real-time PCR within multiple markets including food safety, human infectious disease and clinical diagnostics, among others," stated William J. Caragol, Chairman and CEO of PositiveID. "We are very pleased with our progress to date on the development of Firefly Dx and are continuing our testing on the PCR chip to detect additional pathogens in less than 20 minutes."

By 2019, the global market for food safety testing is projected to reach more than $15 billion, and the North American food safety testing market is projected to grow from $3.7 billion in 2012 to $5.6 billion in 2018, according to MarketsandMarkets. In 2012, pathogen testing dominated the food safety testing market.

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