SBIR Phase I: A Rapid Proteomic Biometric Instrument for Detecting Exposure to Biowarfare Agents
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will use a novel self-contained micro-electrochemical detection technology to measure the human protein response to specific biological agents. The end result will be an embedded computer controlled, automated, hand held device that can be used to measure protein levels down to 56 zeptomoles from a pinprick sample of whole blood in less than 30 minutes. Each detection site on the array will consist of interdigitized electrodes spaced within 100.s nm dimensions to optimize redox cycling and amplification of signal. Although this patents pending technology has been previously shown to detect a multitude of pathogens, anthrax was chosen for the Phase I work because of its suitability for use as a biological weapon. Anthrax is a naturally occurring organism with highly resistant spores that is relatively easy to grow in multitudes. Its effectiveness as a biological weapon was demonstrated when anthrax laced letters were distributed in October 2001 where 22 people were infected and 5 died before the organism could be detected. In addition to having biodefense applications, the proposed device could also be used to detect naturally occurring infectious agents or host produced proteins to such naturally occurring infectious agents. Individuals who manufacture or work with anthrax would likely be exposed to low levels of the pathogen over long periods of time and may not have antibody levels that are detectible by current methods. The results of Phase I of this study will allow non-skilled personnel to inexpensively and rapidly detect low levels of human exposure to anthrax. Suspected distributors of anthrax could be quickly screened for further questioning on background and intent. Phase II will focus on automated, simultaneous multiple pathogen detection and will have a variety of applications. The proposed device could be used in the early detection of exposure to pathogens such as Bacillus anthracis, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium parvum, Clostridium botulinum, and the like. Travelers and immigrants could be potentially screened for known pathogens before being allowed entry into a country. Gravely ill patients with nondescript symptoms could be diagnosed quickly to maximize prophylaxis and recovery. We believe that this relatively inexpensive, user-friendly, hand held, low volume detection devices will find a multitude of uses in the security and medical fields.
Small Business Information at Submission:
535 West Research Blvd. Fayetteville, AR 72701
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