DTRA issues request for handheld biothreat detector

The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency issued a request on Wednesday for information on the development of a handheld device that could be used by front-line soldiers to identify and characterize biothreats and disease agents.

The information request, released by the agency's Joint Program Manager - Transformational Medical Technologies division, is meant to protect deployed military forces from emerging infectious diseases and biological warfare agents that could result from bioterrorism attacks.

The request is seeking information on existing technologies, including pathogen identification and characterization, chemical agent identification and sample preparation prior to analysis on a handheld device in an end-to-end, integrated system. Officials are only interested in technologies that have already been developed to the stage of a working prototype.

The prototype should be lightweight, easy-to-use and should include a handheld bio-identification system that will help those on the front-line to identify and characterize pathogens found in a sample. Military officials deem the importance of identifying bio-warfare and infectious disease agents above that of identifying chemical agents and biological toxins.

The component that prepares the samples must be combined with the handheld bio-identifier and must be reliable for front-line operations of the military. The process from the beginning to the end of analysis should take less than one hour.