Analytical Services news

Cawthron's unique marine toxins will be distributed globally by Sigma-Adrich as part of a new strategic partnership.
9 December 2014

Strategic partnership announced with Sigma-Aldrich

Unique, high-value marine toxins discovered by Cawthron scientists will be supplied to laboratories worldwide, as part of a new global distribution agreement with US-based chemical supply company Sigma-Aldrich Corporation.

"This is an exciting new development and an excellent outcome for our highly-regarded marine toxin and food safety research," says Cawthron Institute Chief Executive, Professor Charles Eason.

"The partnership adds a new suite of products to Sigma-Aldrich's catalogue, supports laboratories worldwide to improve identification of human health risks from algae, and generates high-value exports for New Zealand."

The marine toxins, which weight for weight are worth vastly more than gold, are used by laboratories worldwide as reference materials when testing for algal toxins in seafood. Cawthron produces the toxins using a highly-sophisticated process developed at the Institute, involving extracting, isolating and purifying the bioactive compounds from toxin-producing microalgae that are grown and processed on site.

"Cawthron is one of just a handful of organisations worldwide with the capability to produce these rare, naturally occurring marine toxins and bring them to market," Professor Eason says. "These are very high-value manufactured exports for niche markets."

The equivalent of a teaspoon of these marine toxins is valued at over NZ $100,000, "...but it is a very small, niche market and they are sold in minute (microgram or milligram) quantities."

The new agreement will see Cawthron and Sigma-Aldrich work together to develop a new product range and extend availability of the marine toxins through the global Sigma-Aldrich distribution network. It will be the first time such toxins have been included in the Sigma-Aldrich catalogue.

Building on a world-class reputation

Cawthron has more than 30 years' experience with microalgae and has unique expertise in extraction of natural compounds from algae. In 2000, it pioneered an instrumental test method for marine toxins in seafood, replacing the existing crude mouse-based test. 

Cawthron's testing method has now become the standard worldwide and was recently mandated by the European Union. That has led to increased demand for the marine toxin reference materials needed to calibrate the test method. 

"The instrumental method requires calibration using purified marine toxins, which we produce," says Cawthron Institute's Analytical Services Technical Manager Dr Paul McNabb. "We identified an opportunity to work with Sigma-Aldrich to produce and provide these toxins on a global scale, and they were very supportive, acknowledging our leadership and expertise in this area, and were keen to respond to the growing demand for these products."

"This agreement will enable scientists around the world to more easily access the toxins that are critical for monitoring seafood safety. Working together with Sigma-Aldrich, we can develop new products to meet the needs of a global customer base and help provide greater certainty to consumers that their seafood is safe to eat."

Sigma-Aldrich Global Director Strategic Business Development (Analytical) Dr Fabian Wahl says, "This agreement strengthens our long-standing relationship with Cawthron Institute and provides broader access to essential Certified Reference Materials needed by ISO 17025 accredited laboratories."

"Using Certified Reference Materials eliminates potential analytical variables, which ultimately increases confidence in analytical data and could lead to a reduction in time and expense for analysts. In addition, our web-based marketplace offers convenient access to a comprehensive range of products for the entire analytical workflow."

More news articles:

New product a goldmine for Cawthron - stuff.co.nz 

'Liquid gold' marine biotoxins backed by KiwiNet have huge payoff potential with global partnership - KiwiNet 

Cawthron Institute signs global partner to sell valuable marine biotoxins used in shellfish - National Business Review

Cawthron Institute biotoxins prove lucrative - 3 News

For more information please contact:

Andy Selwood, Analytical Services, Cawthron Institute.  Phone 03 548 2319 ext 360 or 268. Email andy.selwood@cawthron.org.nz

Professor Charles Eason,  Chief Executive, Cawthron Institute.  Phone 03 548 2319 ext 270. Email charles.eason@cawthron.org.nz