CytoGenex was established in 2002 as an independent UK science laboratory, equipped to offer analytical and research support to the food-supplement, general food and pharmaceutical industries. The laboratory has developed an expertise in the microbiological and molecular biological analysis of products ranging from herbal plant materials to food colourings and preservatives. CytoGenex works closely with every customer to develop detection methodologies for food adulterants, GMOs and novel food ingredients, and is available to offer advice concerning product labelling.

Microbiological testing

CytoGenex uses procedures that conform to the standards outlined by EU Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations for pharmaceutical analysis (licence number: 22540/362437) and the Foods Standards Agency of the UK. Testing is designed to assess the total number of viable bacteria and fungi present in a given product, as well as the existence of specific pathogens, such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella species.

Primary methodologies employ traditional agar plating of homogenised samples; however, the laboratory has expertise in molecular recognition techniques based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). New methodologies for the detection of pathogenic species can be established at the request of the customer.

Product adulterants and allergen detection

CytoGenex is often called upon to provide heavy metal profiles for raw materials or finished products, through the use of inductively-coupled plasma (ICP) spectroscopy. This work is supported by analysis of food allergens such as peanut, hazelnut, egg, milk and gliadin (for gluten intolerance). Similarly, tests for agents such as aflatoxins can be performed with methods based on antibody-antigen interactions (ELISA).

Genetic modification detection

CytoGenex works with customers to implement methodologies for the detection of genetically modified, plant-derived, food ingredients. Testing methods, using PCR technology, allow the detection of foreign DNA inserted into the plant genome.

In order to provide identity of fungal and plant material, CytoGenex has developed DNA fingerprinting techniques based on DNA fragment length polymorphism and microsatellite analysis. These techniques parallel those currently used for human forensic investigations.

Stability studies are conducted using a particular product component as a reference or surrogate for overall product stability. This work is particularly directed towards the analysis of active principals in food supplements or functional foods.

Functional foods testing

With the growing awareness of the role that certain food groups play in our fundamental health and wellbeing, CytoGenex is able to provide both analytical and research support to customers wishing to bring new products to the market. CytoGenex can facilitate the testing of new food additives/supplements under in vitro cell culture conditions. This allows the determination of potential genotoxicity, as well as acute toxicity, on a range of normal and transformed cell lines.

In addition, CytoGenex has access to a wide range of industry and academic support, when wider expertise is needed for compound detection or toxicological analysis.

Anti-microbial disinfectants and preservatives testing

Antibacterial agents are important not only as preservatives, but also for food hygiene, in areas where food items are being prepared and/or packaged. CytoGenex offers a service where surface-acting and immersion-dependent disinfectants can be tested using methodologies that conform to international standards.