Abbot releases new biodetection technology

Illinois pharmaceutical company Abbott released an enhanced assay system on Tuesday known as the PLEX-ID system that is capable of accurately detecting 17 different biothreat pathogens.

The system was unveiled at the American Society for Microbiology Conference on Biodefense and Emerging Diseases in Washington. The device allows for analysis of specimens like blood, food, air filter samples and water, and gives results in fewer than eight hours. Most blood and tissue culture-based methods can take three or more days to get test results.

"While public health officials concerned with bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases are detecting known, conventional infectious agents, it's becoming very clear there is a need for broader detection and characterization of pathogens for bio-defense," David Ecker, divisional vice president and general manager of Abbott's Ibis Biosciences subsidiary, said. "The PLEX-ID system's new biothreat assay will serve that need by identifying and quantifying, for non-diagnostic purposes, a broad set of pathogens including bacteria and families of viruses in humans and animals."

Some of the bioagents that are targeted by the new test include E. coli, Ebola virus, Bacillus anthracis, salmonella and avian influenza viruses.

PLEX-ID was recognized by the Wall Street Journal and The Scientist as a top scientific innovation in 2009. It was originally developed in 2005. The technology has been deployed in 20 sites around the United States, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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