Christian-Doppler-Labor für molekularbiologische Lebensmittelanalytik

Abstract

Infections and intoxications transmitted from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases and the transmission can occur directly or by contamination of a vector completing the epidemiological chain.

Food items are of paramount significance as vectors for the transmission of hazardous biological agents. Estimates suggest that there are 350 000 cases/annum of food-borne diseases in Austria. With the global dimension of travel and trade increasing over years, the risk of pathogen dissemination grows continuously and increasing the capacity to manage a food-borne risk is vital.
Microbial testing has been a major subject since the discovery of microbes in the second half of the nineteenth century. Although improvements have been made over the decades, the principles of target cell enrichment, target cell isolation and target cell identification have remained unchanged. Because the sequence of these steps is given, the timespan needed for microbial analysis stretches from a couple of days to more than a week, mainly due to the fact that the „amplification“ of the target cells requires stable and appropriate incubation conditions and sufficient time for the cells to grow. With the possibility of analysing nucleic acids, a novel principle was introduced into food science, which will bridge the analytical gap in the future.
The research concept  of the Christian-Doppler Laboratory for Molecularbiological Food Analysis (CD-MOFA) aims to develop food models, sample management systems and nucleic-acids based methodology allowing a rapid and advanced determination, quantification and characterisation of zoonotic agents in the food chain.
The strategic concept of the CD-MOFA is to combine the international reputed research capacity established at the University for Veterinary Medicine and the Austrian Institute for Technology (AIT Seibersdorf) with the risk management activities of the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety  and the distribution capacities of Merck KGaA in combating zoonotic diseases by technical developments allowing timely recognition of an emerging threat, and to help verifying the efficiency of preventive or response measures.