Portable Device Tests Food for Gluten, Quickly and Accurately

You’ve called the restaurant ahead of time about their menu, spoken with the chef and checked with your server – twice –  but can you be sure that the food you are about to eat is truly gluten free? “The Nima Sensor can put your anxiety to rest by providing you with accurate gluten test results within two minutes,” says Leo Lutero for Technology.

gluten allergen testing

Although DIY testing kits for allergens aren’t a new concept, until Nima, the packaging was not discreet enough to carry around to where they would be most needed – restaurants. Unlike Nima, other testing kits are usually made up of test tubes and reagents in small bottles.

The technology works by putting all the chemistry and sample receptacle in a single-use disposable cartridge. Inside these cartridges are antibodies that 6SensorLabs, the company behind Nima, spent a year developing. These compounds bind only to gluten and trigger a chemical change which the reusable sensor then reads. Should the sample of food contain  20 parts of gluten per million food particles, a red light will illuminate.

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Nima is is accurate to 99.5%. The accuracy increases when the amount of gluten in the sample exceeds 20 ppm.

The science behind the Nima is based on immunoassay technology,  mobilizing the selectivity of antibodies to bond with large gluten protein molecules. Efforts to adapt the technology to test for peanuts and milk are underway.

The startup, founded by former MIT students, will be releasing prices for its devices and accepting pre-orders by the end of 2015. They’re targeting getting into consumer hands by early next year. Get on the wait list!

What concerns might you have about such a test? 

What would you be willing to spend on a test like this?