Numerous health problems in the United States are associated with mold (i.e., fungi) in homes, schools, and businesses. With a technology developed by EPA researchers, these problems can be identified quickly and accurately, allowing illnesses to be diagnosed and treated more effectively. Perhaps more important, use of this technology may prevent disease occurrence.
EPA’s DNA-based process can identify and quantify more than 130 species of toxic molds and potentially pathogenic fungi in the environment. Fungi and bacteria cause or contribute to many health problems, including infections, gastroenteritis, ulcers, asthma, allergies, and sinusitis. This invention may have applications in research related to therapeutics and diagnostics for these illness. Additionally, this technology can be used to:
- Determine whether an environment is abnormally mold contaminated.
- Test homes for potentially pathogenic molds
- Test water for pathogenic molds.
- Monitor hospitals to prevent nosocomial mold infections.
- Rapidly diagnose mold infections so that treatment can begin earlier.
- Monitor fold and drugs for mold contamination.
- Measure the risk for mold associated with allergic and asthmatic disease.
- Diagnose chronic rhinosinusitis.
- Monitor crops for mold pathogens in an integrated pest management program, thus reducing the use of pesticides.
This method provides real-time results that are more accurate and less time-consuming than previous technologies. EPA-licensed commercial laboratories in the US have used this method to provide testing services for their clients.
This technology was licensed by 15 companies, 11 of which are small US businesses. The first license was issued in 2000, and word spread quickly about the technology, leading to many more non-exclusive licenses within a few short years. The patent didn’t issue until 2002, after there were already several licenses in place.