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Handheld FRET-Aptamer Sensor for Chem-Bio Threats

Award Information
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
Branch: N/A
Contract: EP-D-11-033
Agency Tracking Number: EP-D-11-033
Amount: $79,984.36
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: J
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2010
Award Year: 2011
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2011-03-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2011-08-31
Small Business Information
4100 N.W. Loop 410, Ste. 230
San Antonio, TX 78229-
United States
DUNS: 154088710
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 John Bruno
 (210) 731-0000
Business Contact
 William Henderson
Phone: (210) 731-0000
Research Institution

"Operational Technology Corporation (OpTech) proposes to couple the ultrasensitivity of fluorescence-based detection with the high selectivity of synthetic DNA aptamers as replacements for antibodies to detect chemical and biological (CB) terrorism threats in 10 minutes or less from a variety of swabbed surfaces and liquid matrices. OpTech has previously provided strong proof-of-concept for a rapid one-step (“bind and detect”) Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) aptamer assay for foot and mouth disease virus (J. Biomolec. Techniques, 2008), a nerve gas core molecule (J. Fluorescence 2008) as well as collagen breakdown peptides and calcidiol to monitor bone metabolism in astronauts (J. Clin. Ligand Assay, 2007). This patent-pending FRET-aptamer assay technology can now be applied in lyophilized form in plastic cuvettes to detect a variety of CB analytes on-site with low ng/ml sensitivity using a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) handheld and battery-operated fluorometer. In Phase 1, OpTech will screen its existing methylphosphonic acid (MPA; nerve agent core), soman derivative, and Botulinum toxin A (BoNT A) candidate DNA aptamer sequences for FRET assay potential. OpTech will also develop aptmers to “anthrose” surface glycoprotein terminal sugar for detection of Bacillus anthracis spores. In Phase 2, OpTech will fully develop and lyophilize the selected FRET-aptamer assays in plastic cuvettes for use with the sensitive COTS handheld fluorometer for facile, rapid, and cost-effective detection of MPA, sarin or soman, BoNTs and anthrax spores. OpTech will also expand its repertoire of assays in Phase 2 to include more CB treat agents (viral and bacterial agents of interest).

The primary market for OpTech’s initial CB FRET-aptamer assays will be federal and state first responders as well as military personnel. Clearly, however, the one-step FRET-aptamer assay approach coupled to a handheld COTS fluorometer constitutes a platform technology with broad applications in clinical diagnostics, veterinary diagnostics, food safety testing, environmental and agricultural monitoring.


* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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