Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Biological Threat Detector
Identifying potentially-infectious bacteria, quickly and accurately, poses a challenge to researchers in a field environment. Typically, researchers collect a sample, send it back to the laboratory, have the sample grown in a cell culture, and wait for a technician to interpret the results. This method furnishes subjective results in a time-consuming manner.
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's (ORNL’s) Chemical and Analytical Sciences Division have developed the biological threat detector which can detect and identify numerous species of microorganisms at the unit cell level in a single analysis. This immunoassay technique uses structural resonances to determine the precise diameter of transparent immunospheres which contain a fluorescent dye. Researchers then coat different diameter spheres with antibodies that are specific to a bacteria. The diameter of the immunosphere identifies the antibody coated to it. After an incubation period, researchers could identify the stained microorganisms by observing the size of the antibody-coated immunosphere to which they were attached.
The biological threat detector could be used as a portable, briefcase-sized, manually-operated instrument. The same principles could be incorporated in a completely-automated, stand-alone instrument based on flow cytometry methods with only a modest increase in size and complexity. Applications include microorganism identification by military personnel or sample collection by field inspection teams.
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