Ground-breaking technology quickly detects biothreats

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are working on a medical device that will be able to quickly detect numerous biothreat agents, including anthrax, ricin, botulinum, shiga and SEB toxin.

The device will first need to be approved by the FDA. It will then be used in emergency rooms in event of a bioterrorism attack.

"This is an unmet need for the nation's biodefense program," Anup Singh, senior manager for Sandia's biological science and technology group, said. "A point-of-care device does not exist."

Sandia's project is funded by a recent grant for almost $4 million by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health. With the funding, Sandia's work on biosciences and microfluidics have continued to grow.

"This will take things to the next level," Singh said.

The need for diagnostic devices is a growing market, Singh said, since there are always new diseases that are troublesome to detect.

"Plus, we want dual-use devices that combat both man-made and nature-made problems," Singh said. "We're not just going to wait for the next anthrax letter incident to happen for our devices to be used and tested; we want them to be useful for other things as well, like infectious diseases."

Singh emphasized that expanding into these areas will keep Sandia's bioresearch efforts going for years to come.

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