Firefly DX relies on polymerase chain reactions for rapid testing

Anthrax spores
Anthrax spores | Courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The same techniques used to develop the rapid diagnostic tool for anthrax is now being used for PositiveID's Firefly DX rapid detection device.

Following the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, Dr. Franklin Cockerill led a team of researchers in developing a rapid diagnostic tool for the detection of the deadly bio-agent based on polymerase chain reactions (PCR). 

Cockerill, who was working at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, at the time, was instrumental in the development of the DNA test that could identify anthrax spores within an hour. 
Before the test was developed, it would take a lengthy amount of time to determine if a person had been exposed to Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that is responsible for the infectious anthrax disease.

PCR diagnostics are now being used in the development of  PositiveID's Firefly Dx, which developers hope will be able to quickly test for expose to a number of different biological and chemical agents.

In initial testing, the Firefly Dx device was able to produce results by studying PCRs within 20 minutes. Developers also reported that the device was just as accurate as other forms of detection equipment used in a laboratory setting.