"We envision medical personnel using SpinDx routinely," said Greg Sommer, the Sandia researcher who spearheaded development of the project. "Instead of standard blood panels and costly lab tests, a SpinDx disk would be processed right in the office while the medical office staff is gathering routine data like temperature and blood pressure."
The platform also has homeland security and food processing applications.
Singh recently led a National Institutes of Health grant (grant # 1U01AI075441) to adapt the lab-on-a-disk platform for toxin diagnostics.
The device could be the most accurate method available to detect the botulinum toxin, said Sommer. Caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, the botulinum toxin is one of the most toxic substances knowna miniscule quantity can deliver a lethal dose. But despite scientific advances, laboratory mice remain the only reliable way to test for botulism.
"The mouse bioassay is primitive, but remains the gold standard due to its sensitivity," Sommer said. "Our SpinDx botulinum assay vastly outperformed the mouse bioassay in head-to-head tests, and requires absolutely no animal testing. Plus there are a lot of cost and speed advantages."
While botulism is quite rare only about 145 cases are reported in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the lethality of the toxin makes it an attractive candidate for bioterrorism. "A very small amount in the food system could harm a lot of people," said Sommer.
Sandia's goal, Sommer said, is to create a handheld, point-of-care device that can be used in the field by emergency responders.
SpinDx's ability to process many substances also makes the device relevant for food safety testing. About 15 percent of botulism cases are food-borne. In 2007, 14 people in seven states contracted botulism from chile sau
|Contact: Mike Janes|
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories