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Medicinal Genomics Adds AI Tool to Speed Up Cannabis-Microbial Analysis

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Sep 15, 2022   
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Medicinal Genomics, a genetics screening company that specialize in cannabis testing, has added a new software to boost its microbial testing offering.

The software, known as FastFinder, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data from polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which are used in cannabis labs to determine the presence of microbes on cannabis samples.

The AI addition comes courtesy of Medicinal Genomics’ partnership with the Belgian software company UgenTec, which developed FastFinder.

More AI, less time wasted

The team at Medicinal Genomics say FastFinder can help cannabis testers automate their microbial assays, minimizing result turnaround time.

“FastFinder is essentially a software interface that analyzes data that comes off of qPCR or PCR, instrument runs,” Timothy Olcott, vice president of operations at Medicinal Genomics, told Analytical Cannabis.

“It analyses assays that are run on an instrument, and helps interpret that data, depending on what the user is looking for. It was used extensively on Covid qPCR analyses, that’s someplace where they [UgenTec] definitely made their name.”

“They rolled out their platform to the number of labs that were running Covid testing. If you saw a lot of news about labs making incorrect calls on qPCR data because the technicians just didn’t know how to interpret a qPCR CQ [quantification cycle] curve, this software really solves that problem. And it’s a problem that exists in cannabis testing.

“So it solves a big problem for our customers, because it allows us to put our data analysis protocol that we have written into a software interface; it essentially does it for them. It allows the customer to plug their data set into their LIMS [laboratory information management system] and allows them to aggregate all of their data and monitor users and how each user might be performing a qPCR reaction correctly or incorrectly – a lot of good data for them to get that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to pull off of their instrument.”

Olcott says FastFinder will be of particular use to cannabis testers, considering many come into the profession with a chemistry background and have less experience testing microbes than they do testing for chemical contaminants, such as pesticides.

“A lot of times there are not microbiologists in cannabis testing labs; there are chemists that are learning to do a microbiologist’s job,” Olcott told Analytical Cannabis. “Oftentimes, they can do it just fine, but sometimes they can’t.”

“And there’s a lot of turnover in this field. So we will see lab techs get trained and then four weeks later we’ll get a phone call asking us to come back in and train a new person. So we think streamlining things with this data analysis, which is such a key component of the process, will really help our clients.”


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