Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Animals, Agriculture & Food
Animals Agriculture Food
Easy Test for β-lactoglobulin (BLG) Milk Allergen
WARF: P120220US01

Inventors: Sundaram Gunasekaran, Jiang Yang

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a device that takes five seconds to detect β-lactoglobulin in foods and could be used at home.
Cow’s milk allergy ranks among the most pervasive of human food allergies. Numerous milk proteins have been implicated but β-lactoglobulin (BLG) is the most potent, responsible for about nine percent of all diagnosed food allergies.

BLG is a whey protein found in the milk of many mammalian species (excluding humans) and also in health supplements. Boiling the protein does not prevent allergic reaction. Given its pervasiveness, the FDA requires food products containing BLG to be labeled. Testing is done in laboratories using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to identify and measure BLG concentrations.

ELISA tests are not accessible to most consumers. A new approach should be quicker and easier.
The Invention
UW–Madison researchers have developed a simple, rapid test for detecting and quantifying BLG in food. Their method takes advantage of the fact that current signals passed through a hydrogen peroxide solution will be diminished if BLG is present.

Specifically, a known concentration of hydrogen peroxide is added to a sample suspected of containing BLG. The sample is electrolyzed using a working electrode at a fixed potential sufficient to electrolyze any BLG. The current signal within the sample is measured and compared to control curves. If BLG is present, the signal will be smaller than expected. The more the signal is diminished, the greater the concentration of BLG in the sample.
  • Detecting and quantifying BLG in food products
  • Quickly getting rid of BLG fouling in food manufacturing/milk processing facilities
Key Benefits
  • Test could be implemented in a simple, disposable handheld device.
  • Safe and inexpensive
  • Does not require the use of antibodies, enzymes or labels
  • Readings can be completed in five seconds or less.
  • Easily built as a portable unit and combined with modern electrochemical techniques such as screen-printed or paper electrodes
Additional Information
For More Information About the Inventors
Related Intellectual Property
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at [javascript protected email address] or 608-960-9845