Scientists research new potential technologies for chemical and biological threat detection

Researchers at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center announced on June 26 that they are researching a new technology to detect chemical and biological agents that may reduce the current detection budget by 90 percent.

Current technology systems that detect if suspicious powders are live or active chemical or biological weapons are costly. The ECBC reports one test costs $26. Researchers began looking for an alternative technology that is cheaper and came across adenosine triphosphate, which may lead to more effective and less costly chemical and biological agent detection.

ATP is a main provider of energy to cells and each reproducible organism contains it. A study ECBC researchers conducted titled "Technology Limited Report 30606" discovered all organisms, including spores, have ATP, which may provide a good basis for a new detection technology.

"This is exciting because it gives us a new avenue to research technologies that can screen suspicious powders much more effectively than what's currently on the market for first responders," ECBC chemist James Wright said. "A lot of assumptions were made 50 years ago that aren't holding up. We're finding now that we can screen at several orders of magnitude lower than previously thought."

ECBC scientists are researching ATP systems to see if they will prove to be a viable basis for cheaper, more efficient technology. Research looks promising, as testing a suspicious substance on an ATP system costs $3. The team will continue to research current ATP systems and is confident it will have a viable unit for first responders within one to two years.