Sunday, July 18, 2010

Identifying Biological Threats

The Military Health System reports that a new portable device using nanotechnology can identify biological threats in minutes. Integrated Nano-Technologies (INT) has developed a field portable device called the Palladium that can easily and accurately identify targeted infectious diseases and other biological threats.

The Palladium employs nanotechnology to obtain DNA analysis results that until now were not possible without lengthy sample preparation and the use of expensive equipment. Samples generally have to be taken to a lab for this level of analysis. Early research for the project was funded through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and continued prototype and engineering refinements were funded by the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC).

With the handheld Palladium device, the user puts blood, tissue, or another type of sample in a disposable test cartridge, locks the cartridge into the reader and presses the start button. The device releases the DNA from the cells or viruses in the sample by bombarding them with small glass beads that are vibrated ultrasonically. Paramagnetic nano particles attach to the released DNA, which is drawn via electromagnets to a computer chip with sensors on its surface.

Then the DNA molecule matches two capture probes in a sensor then binds to the probes and creates a bridge. A meal coating is deposited along the bridge between these electrodes, forming a wire that shorts the sensor for that particular virus, bacteria, or strains. The device reads which sensors are activated and then reports the results to the user in less than 10 minutes. This enables the time, location, and results to be reported wirelessly to a central site allowing disease outbreaks to be readily identified and monitored.

In future developments, INT has identified additional development opportunities several of which have patents pending. The company is developing high resolution imaging arrays using nano scale electronic components which joins DNA with semiconductors. When assembled, an array will produce imaging resolutions thousands of times greater than current technology.

The NanoSyringe ™ is a site specific drug delivery system that will allow for delivery of therapeutic agents directly to specific cells within the body such as to tumors. The syringe should drastically reduce adverse drug reactions as drugs will only interact with the targeted cells and not with surrounding healthy tissues and will be used to treat cancers, drug resistant infections, and for gene therapy.