Identifying Airborne Pathogens in Time to Respond

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Among the possible terrorist activities that might threaten national security is the release of an airborne pathogen such as anthrax. Because the potential damage to human health could be severe, experts consider 1 minute to be an operationally useful time limit for identifying the pathogen and taking action. Many commercial systems can identify airborne pathogenic microbes, but they take days or, at best, hours to produce results. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other U.S. government agencies are interested in finding a faster approach. To answer this national need, a Livermore team, led by scientist Eric Gard, has developed ... continued below

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Hazi, A January 25, 2006.

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Among the possible terrorist activities that might threaten national security is the release of an airborne pathogen such as anthrax. Because the potential damage to human health could be severe, experts consider 1 minute to be an operationally useful time limit for identifying the pathogen and taking action. Many commercial systems can identify airborne pathogenic microbes, but they take days or, at best, hours to produce results. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other U.S. government agencies are interested in finding a faster approach. To answer this national need, a Livermore team, led by scientist Eric Gard, has developed the bioaerosol mass spectrometry (BAMS) system--the only instrument that can detect and identify spores at low concentrations in less than 1 minute. BAMS can successfully distinguish between two related but different spore species. It can also sort out a single spore from thousands of other particles--biological and nonbiological--with no false positives. The BAMS team won a 2005 R&D 100 Award for developing the system. Livermore's Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program funded the biomedical aspects of the BAMS project, and the Department of Defense's Technical Support Working Group and Defense Advanced Research Project Agency funded the biodefense efforts. Developing a detection system that can analyze small samples so quickly has been challenging. Livermore engineer Vincent Riot, who worked on the BAMS project, explains, ''A typical spore weighs approximately one-trillionth of a gram and is dispersed in the atmosphere, which contains naturally occurring particles that could be present at concentrations thousands of times higher. Previous systems also had difficulty separating benign organisms from those that are pathogenic but very similar, which has resulted in false alarms''.

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PDF-file: 4 pages; size: 0.8 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: UCRL-TR-218471
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/883608 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 883608
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc892592

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • January 25, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 23, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

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  • Nov. 29, 2016, 1:51 p.m.

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Hazi, A. Identifying Airborne Pathogens in Time to Respond, report, January 25, 2006; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc892592/: accessed October 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.