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News

Research proposal submitted to DHS for bioterrorism detection

Universal Detection Technology : 14 December, 2009  (Company News)
Universal Detection Technology has applied to the Department of Homeland Security for support of a research project for the detection of the use of bioagents as weapons of terrorism
Universal Detection Technology, a developer of early-warning monitoring technologies to protect people from bioterrorism and other infectious health threats and provider of counter-terrorism consulting and training services, has responded to the Department of Homeland Security's request for a research proposal aimed at detecting and containing harmful bioagents, such as anthrax, used as bioterrorism weapons.

The Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) from the Department of Homeland Security is seeking research and development proposals in multiple Technical Focus Areas (TFAs) of bacterial biothreat antigen detection and identification. UNDT plans to adapt technology licensed from NASA's JPL for a non-immunological method of identifying bacterial biothreat agents.

The threat of terrorist or criminal use of pathogenic organisms and their toxins remains of great concern in the United States. In order to address capability gaps in this area and support the Surveillance and Detection Pillar of the National Biomonitoring Architecture (NBMA), the development of rapid and specific detection methods are needed to provide reliable analysis on a variety of bacterial biothreat agents. As part of the effort to deter biological terrorism and strengthen the capabilities of the biodefense and public health laboratory response, it is important to explore both classic and alternative methods and approaches to address the critical need to rapidly detect bacterial biothreat agent antigens and toxins of interest.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-296) states that DHS S&T will "support basic and applied homeland security research to promote revolutionary changes in technologies; advance the development, testing and evaluation, and deployment of critical homeland security technologies; and accelerate the prototyping and deployment of technologies that would address homeland security vulnerabilities." Pursuant to this mission, the Chemical Biological Division (CBD) seeks technologies to prevent, detect, and defend against a biological attack. The focus of this BAA is in the area of bacterial biothreat agent detection, surveillance and identification research.

The BAA calls for proposals on research aimed at recovering, extracting, and preserving the antigenic signature of the bioagents from their associated samples; and detecting and identifying the presence of bacterial biothreat agents present in these samples using non-immunological methods of detection to analyze samples for bacterial biothreat agent antigenic material.

UNDT's technology uses a molecule unique to bacterial spores, Dipicolinic acid (DPA) which combines with terbium ions. Exciting the combined terbium ion and DPA generates a luminescence characteristic. This is achieved by radiating the complex with ultraviolet light. This method will allow for the detection of bacterial spores using a non-immunological method.

The Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism, headed up by former senators Bob Graham and Jim Talent ominously warned that, "A recent study from the intelligence community projected that a one-to-two kilogram release of anthrax spores from a crop duster plane could kill more Americans than died in World War II (over 400,000)." As a follow-up to this sobering news, they reported: "Clean-up and other economic costs could exceed $1.8 trillion."

"The report by former senators Graham and Talent demonstrates the alarming prospect of a biological weapon attack to the nation," said Jacques Tizabi, UNDT's CEO. "We plan to work with the DHS and other government agencies in providing the best products and technologies to combat this threat,' he added.
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