SBIR Phase II: A Label-Free SERS-Capture Assay in Microchips for Biological Warfare Agents
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will develop a prototype analyzer that can detect, identify, and quantify the presence of Category A (B and C) bioagents at the required specificity and sensitivity (e.g. in air 104 spores/m3, 100 organisms/m3 and 2-300 mg toxin/m3) within 10 minutes. The analyzers will incorporate a novel surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS)-based assay into sample systems read by a portable Raman spectrometer. The assays will be functionalized to selectively capture specific bioagents and generate unique SER spectra when irradiated by the analyzer laser. During Phase I, feasibility was demonstrated by selectively binding and detecting 25 ppm B. cereus (a B. anthracis surrogate) in the presence of 250 ppm B. subtilis. During Phase II, the assays will be developed to detect several real agents, such as B. anthracis (anthrax), Yersinia pestis (Plague), Francisella tularensis (Tularemia), and Clostridium botulinum (Botulism). The assays will then be incorporated into a product prototype that autonomously detects aerosolized bioagents. The analytical capabilities of the prototype will be validated at the US Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.
The broader/commercial impact of this project will provide a bioagent detector with the necessary sensitivity and speed to save lives and reduce substantially the terror associated with biological attacks. The continued presence of US military personnel in the Middle East has produced a persistent fear that biological warfare agents may be used by terrorists against civilian and military personnel at home and abroad. The proposed analyzer will allow measurement of such bioagents within 10 minutes, a vast improvement over the 2-3 hours required by current technology. Initially, the proposed detector will be used to protect military bases. Once established, the application of this product will be expanded to civilian applications, such as transit systems, high profile buildings (federal, financial, Fortune 500), stadiums, airports, and malls. The US military and civilian market is currently estimated at $0.5 Billion.
Small Business Information at Submission:
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