CPhI Online

DNA TESTING: THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING WHERE TO LOOK

17 Oct 2017

DNA Barcoding: the pragmatism of Indena is paving the way to a new era of safety and reliability

There is no universal DNA barcoding methodology for plants and the choice of a particular technique often depends on a number of factors, each plant needing a dedicated method, developed on its own genome. This fact has a considerable impact on the overall quality of any botanical extract in the market. Indena has been pioneering this path even before it became an issue, as started integrating DNA sequencing into its Quality System in 2011 and over 60% of the raw material used nowadays in Indena’s manufacturing comes from controlled cultivations. Its proprietary herbarium located in the R&D premises in Settala, includes around five thousand classified and validated botanical samples, that are not only used for macroscopic identification, but are also of pivotal support to the company’s quality control department.

Always seeking excellence and innovation, and pursuing the constant search for reliable and science-conscious partners, Indena signed a strategic agreement with the UK-based company Hyris Ltd for the development of methods dedicated to the genomic identification of botanical species, based on unique sets of reagents for specific DNA sequences (bKITs) and the use of the miniaturized, portable technology bCUBE®, the state-of-the-art device for the analysis of nucleic acids.

The Indena platform incorporates all the needed hardware, software and reagents, offering the unique capability to perform full genetic analysis of biological samples in any kind of setting. Its low weight and its design makes the device manageable and user friendly also for unskilled personnel, a fully portable testing laboratory to provide highly accurate results, reducing the time associated with traditional methods. A dedicated mobile app provides a complete and intuitive interface allowing the user to download the test protocol required for the desired analysis, check the reaction in real time, and receive immediate diagnostic information on the sample to be examined.

Indena and Hyris Ltd will provide their unique expertise contributing to strengthen the NHP Research Alliance launched by the University of Guelph, leader in DNA-based identification. The three strategic partners hold exclusive technological and scientific assets that are now merging together to build a reliable third-party verification program that will benefit the Natural Health Product industry.

The Alliance capitalizes on Indena’s nearly hundred years’ experience in the botanical field and its commitment for the use of this technology to potentially problematic species. The contribution of Indena will be key to provide Standard Plant Reference Material resources, including preparation of herbarium vouchers with ancillary information from the Indena supply chain, professional taxonomic IDs, DNA sequences for multiple populations to identify unique nucleotide signatures, nuclear magnetic resonance for a chemical fingerprint, image scanning of samples and bioinformatics database archival with on-line access. In parallel, the patented Hyris platform will offer the unique capability to perform full genetic analysis of biological samples in any kind of setting. DNA sequencing-based tests are sophisticated and powerful technologies, but they are not the key point: knowledge is the nub, and Indena holds that. Thanks to its unique herbarium, its proprietary genomic technology for botanical ID testing based on NGS approach, and its own “DNA tested” certification, Indena is moving forward not only its market potential but also the whole industry itself.

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