The new device, called PANTHER (for PAthogen Notification for THreatening Environmental Releases), represents a "significant advance" over any other sensor, said James Harper of Lincoln Lab's Biosensor and Molecular Technologies Group. Current sensors take at least 20 minutes to detect harmful bacteria or viruses in the air, but the PANTHER sensors can do detection and identification in less than 3 minutes.
The technology has been licensed to Innovative Biosensors, Inc. (IBI) of Rockville, Md. In January, IBI began selling a product, BioFlash, that uses the PANTHER technology.
"There is a real need to detect a pathogen in less than three minutes, so you have time to take action before it is too late," said Harper, the lead scientist developing the sensor.
The PANTHER sensor uses a cell-based sensor technology known as CANARY (after the birds sent into mines to detect dangerous gases), and can pick up a positive reading with only a few dozen particles per liter of air.
The device could be used in buildings, subways and other public areas, and can currently detect 24 pathogens, including anthrax, plague, smallpox, tularemia and E. coli.
"There's really nothing out there that compares with this," said Todd Rider of Lincoln Lab's Biosensor and Molecular Technologies Group, who invented the CANARY sensor technology.
Rider started developing CANARY in 1997 when he realized that there were no sensors available that could rapidly detect pathogens. His idea was to take advantage of nature's own defense system--specifically the B cells that target pathogens in the human body. "B cells in the body are very fast and very sensitive," Rider said.
The CANARY concept uses an array of B cells, each specific to a particular bacterium or virus. The cells are engineered to emit photons of light when they detect their target pathogen. The device then displays a list of any pathogens found.
CANARY is the only sensor that makes use of immune cells. Other available sensors are based on immunoassays or PCR (polymerase chain reaction), which take much longer and/or are not as sensitive as CANARY.
Rider and colleagues first reported the success of CANARY (which stands for Cellular Analysis and Notification of Antigen Risks and Yields) in the journal Science in 2003. Since then, they have been working to incorporate the technology into a portable device that could be used in a variety of settings where environmental threats might exist.
The new device, PANTHER, takes the CANARY technology and combines it with an air sampler that brings pathogens into contact with the detector cells. The prototype sensor is about a cubic foot and weighs 37 pounds and is well suited to building-protection applications. With minor modifications it could also enhance biological detection capabilities for emergency responders.
CANARY has been tested in rural and coastal environments as well as urban ones. It could eventually be used on farms or in food-processing plants to test for contamination by E. coli, salmonella, or other food-borne pathogens.
Another potential application is in medical diagnostics, where the technology could be used to test patient samples, giving rapid results without having to send samples to a laboratory.
"Instead of going to the doctor's office and waiting a few days for your test results, with CANARY you could get the results in just a minute or so," said Rider.
The research on PANTHER was funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
Elizabeth Thomson | EurekAlert!
Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system
22.09.2017 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy