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Rapid, Detection of Active versus Inactive Botulinum Toxin

Award Information

Department of Defense
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2005 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2005
Title: Rapid, Detection of Active versus Inactive Botulinum Toxin
Agency / Branch: DOD / DARPA
Contract: W31P4Q-06-C-0087
Award Amount: $99,000.00


Clostridium botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT) are among the most poisonous substances known. Although production and dissemination of pure toxin is not trivial, it is highly feasible, making BoNT a potentially devastating bioweapon. Four serotypes A, B, E and F cause illness in humans. At present, the only method that is used with confidence to detect BoNT is the acute toxicity test performed with mice. This mouse bioassay has a number of drawbacks: it is expensive to perform, requires a large number of animals, takes four days to complete, and does not confirm toxin serotype unless carried out in parallel with antisera neutralization tests. Some immunoassays have demonstrated sensitivities similar to the mouse bioassay, but immunoassays alone do not indicate the toxin's proteolytic activity (the measure of its toxic action), which can lead to false positive results. CDC has demonstrated a sensitive BoNT detection method that determines proteolytic activity based on mass spectrometry, but its drawbacks are expensive instrumentation, the need for a highly trained operator, and 5-6 hours assay time. Dr. Cliff Shone of Health Protection Agency in the United Kingdom, has demonstrated two sensitive BoNT detection methods by immunoassay and by mass spectrometry, both of which require extensive manual operation and 5-6 hours assay time. We propose an assay, cartridge and an instrument to meet the critical need for a BoNT detection method. It will be better than the existing technologies because of the following characteristics: Rapid - 2 to 3 hours Sensitive - at least as sensitive as the mouse bioassay Confirms toxin proteolytic activity Portable, countertop instrument Automated assay not requiring highly trained personnel Phase I of the proposal will demonstrate the part of the novel assay that demonstrates the activity of BoNT and sensitivity of the method.

Principal Investigator:

Cha-Mei Tang

Business Contact:

Platte Amstutz
CFO and Business Development
Small Business Information at Submission:

11609 Lake Potomac Drive Potomac, MD 20854

EIN/Tax ID: 521997174
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No