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Fast pandemic detection tool ready to fight flu
Date:6/9/2009

LOS ALAMOS, New Mexico, June 9, 2009In a joint effort by national laboratory-, university- and private-sector institutions, researchers are developing new tools for rapidly characterizing biological pathogens that could give rise to potentially deadly pandemics such as Influenza A (H1N1).

The first tool, an automated genotyping system, is a joint effort between Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Public Health, and Agilent Technologies. This system will be utilized in the Global Bio Lab at UCLA and will use high-throughput technology for automated global-public-health surveillance.

The automated genotyping system, built to specification by Agilent Technologies, was delivered to Los Alamos in late May for verification of design and capability testing. The $1.7 million BioCel Automation System was designed in collaboration by Los Alamos and UCLA researchers, and professionals at Agilent's automation solutions division, previously known as Velocity11. The system will be able to automatically determine the genetic sequence of viruses such as influenza hundreds of times faster than any other method available today.

By using this system and future high-throughput tools in pandemic response mode, public-health officials will be able to rapidly and reliably determine the strain of a virus, allowing more time for mitigation or containment strategies to be employed if necessary. Moreover, these BioCel systems will also be useful in research mode for monitoring animal populations for the emergence of new and potentially deadly pathogens before the pathogens are able to infect humans. The UCLA Global Bio Lab will become part of the High Throughput Laboratory Network (HTLN), which, when built out, will provide an international and interconnected capacity that provides uniformity in testing methodsreducing the potential for errors or confusion arising from variable testing methodologies curre
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Contact: James Rickman
jamesr@lanl.gov
505-665-9203
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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