Quantum Dot/Aptamer Real-Time Flow Sensor
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Smart Polymers Research Corporation proposes to create a fluorescence-based fully automated flow sensor for real-time environmental detection of biothreat pathogens in water or in the air. The sensor will be utilizing pathogen-specific aptamers chemically modified with highly fluorescent quantum dots. The detection will be performed in the flow mode and provide results in real time. Based on the fluorescence wavelength and intensity, the sensor will be able to identify and quantify multiple pathogens simultaneously. In Phase I, Smart Polymers will test and optimize the sensing approach and use the sensor prototype for detection of two simulants: Bacillus thuringiensis spores and ricin toxin chain A in water. Multi-pathogen detection and detection of air contaminations will be performed in Phase II.
The proposed sensor will have immediate applications for constant environmental water and air monitoring, providing automated real-time specific detection and identification of multiple pathogens; it also can be interfaced with the alarm system. The developed sensors can be used to rule out any disease outbreak due to bioterror attack or natural reasons. Such sensors will have a great potential for detection of minute amounts of a variety of pathogens/biowarfare agents immediately after their use in a possible attack on military targets or the general population. They have the potential to become, in fact, a part of creating an Urban Bioshield, maintaining the safety of large cities. Due to the universality of the sensing principle, the functionality of the sensor will be expanded toward other biological pathogens as new relevant aptamers are being selected. The sensing platform can be adapted to address numerous health care needs, from drinking water safety to food pathogen monitoring. The real-time detection and identification of pathogens, such as the one proposed by Smart Polymers, would be of enormous benefit from a public health perspective.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.