SRI receives contract for radiological detection

SRI International announced Thursday that it has been the recipient of a $12.2 million contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to continue development on diagnostic tests for radiological absorption.

Currently a team at SRI, partnered with DCN Diagnostics, Evolve Manufacturing and the School of Medicine of Stanford University has developed a prototype radiological detection device.

In order to determine the existence of radiation absorption and its severity, medical professionals can only look at which symptoms develop in a radiation poisoning case. Symptoms can include nonspecific ailments such as weakness, nausea and hair loss alongside burns on the skin and diminishing function of the organs. Certain symptoms correlate with how much radiation a person has come into contact with.

The device takes a blood sample from an individual's fingertip and researchers state that a clinically significant dose of radiation is able to be determined within 30 minutes. The test uses the body's natural response to radiation rather than the physical amount of radiological material. It does this by allowing antibodies meant for radiation responsive proteins to activate and in turn provide a quantitative value. Researchers also state that the body's response may vary from person to person, so medical decisions will be based on highly individualized data.

"If you have hundreds of thousands of people potentially affected, you want to screen quickly and use medical resources efficiently," SRI lead researcher David Cooper said. "Our goal is to develop a quick and simple point-of-care medical device that the government, first responders, hospitals and doctors can use in the field to determine a person's absorbed dose of ionizing radiation."

 BARDA funding will be used to support testing and verification of the system.

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