Kaitek Labs is a Chilean synbio company developing a proprietary, rapid and ready-to-use toxin detection kit with engineered bacterial biosensors. Their Microbial Optic Shellfish Evaluation Sensor (MOSES) is an on-site kit that can be used to determine shellfish toxicity by “simply changing colour to alert you of a toxic sample”.

Seafood is the primary source of animal protein for over a billion people in the world and shellfish toxicity continues to pose a severe health risk to many who consume it. Shellfish poisoning can be categorised into four groups – Amnesic, Diarrheal, Neurotoxic and Paralytic – and has fatal consequences for 100,000 people each year.

MOSES is an on-site kit that indicates toxicity within 4 hours, requires minimal equipment, and can analyse up to 15 samples per $80 kit.

Speaking at the RebelBio Demo Day in London, Kaitek Labs founder and CEO Emilia Diaz believes “with this (MOSES) we can provide a tool to regulators who are already providing $437million in old and slow methods, but also to the shellfish industry that needs to ensure the safety of their produce, fast”

In 2013 Kaitek Labs secured a $350,000 governmental grant and in the last 4 months the technology has been developed into a product to receive further investment, first-sales for research, and live trials in South America and Europe.

“In two years, these will be field-ready kits for the shellfish industry and the common consumer… after that, our technology can be applied to virtually any food-born toxin that’s harmful to humans, and, interesting to investors”

In order to reach their goal Kaitek Labs are looking for a $500,000 investment which will be used to continue the evolution of the kit and to support the first production batch for their current clients

(Breakdown: 38% towards R&D personnel, 27% Lab reagents & machinery, 25% infrastructure and 10% legal)

“Every day there are 3 million people out there that can’t tell food from poison and we can do better than 3 days of waiting” – which is currently the time required to test samples on mice.

MOSES is specifically designed to detect red-tide toxicity – a natural phenomenon that greatly effects 28 countries that occurs when microalgae in the ocean starts blooming more than necessary, resulting in toxic shellfish because of their ‘filter feeder’ status.

“We can make shellfish safe, for everyone, now”


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