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New LLNL detection technology identifies bacteria, viruses, other organisms within 24 hours
Date:5/5/2010

LIVERMORE--Law enforcement authorities seeking to detect bioterrorism attacks, doctors diagnosing diseases and regulatory agencies checking product safety may find a new ally in a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) detection technology.

The advance, known as the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA), could enable law enforcement, medical professionals and others to detect within 24 hours any virus or bacteria that has been sequenced and included among the array's probes.

Developed between October 2007 and February 2008, the LLMDA detects viruses and bacteria with the use of 388,000 probes that fit in a checkerboard pattern in the middle of a one-inch wide, three-inch long glass slide.

The current operational version of the LLMDA contains probes that can detect more than 2,000 viruses and about 900 bacteria.

"The ability to detect the major bacterial and viral components of any sample can be used in countless different ways," said Tom Slezak, LLNL's associate program leader for Informatics. "This is important because it fills a cost-performance gap that is relevant to many missions: biodefense, public health and product safety."

In the area of biodefense, current systems are centered upon the detection of smaller prioritized sets of high-risk pathogens, rather than testing for a much broader spectrum of organisms.

"The LLMDA allows us to not only identify the biological pathogens on a priority screening list, but also any other already-sequenced bacteria or virus in a sample that you might not have been expecting to find, including possible novel or emerging pathogens," Slezak said.

Current plans call for the detection array to be evaluated for operational bioforensic use at the Frederick, Md.-based National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

As the cost of the array is reduced, the LLMDA technology could be u
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Contact: Steve Wampler
wamperl1@llnl.gov
925-423-3107
DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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