Scientists have developed a new "biological smoke detector" to help protect against potential bioterrorist attacks, according to a study published in the Jan. 1 edition of Analytical Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society.
High-traffic facilities like airports, office buildings, rail stations and sporting arenas serve hundreds of thousands of people each day, making them particularly susceptible to silent and invisible biological attacks. Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have now developed a new stand-alone detector that can provide early warning to help authorities limit exposure and start treating victims before they show symptoms of full-blown infection.
The instrument, called the Autonomous Pathogen Detection System, or APDS, continuously monitors the air like a "biological smoke detector," says John Dzenitis, Ph.D., a chemical engineer at LLNL and corresponding author of the paper. It is capable of detecting and identifying three types of biological agents: bacteria, viruses and toxins, including such familiar threats as anthrax, plague and botulinum toxin. The machine runs the same tests that molecular biologists would carry out in a laboratory to detect biological agents, providing information that is required before definitive public-health action can be taken.
Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
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