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MIT's PANTHER sensor quickly detects pathogens
Date:3/4/2008

or virus. The cells are engineered to emit photons of light when they detect their target pathogen. The device then displays a list of any pathogens found.

CANARY is the only sensor that makes use of immune cells. Other available sensors are based on immunoassays or PCR (polymerase chain reaction), which take much longer and/or are not as sensitive as CANARY.

Rider and colleagues first reported the success of CANARY (which stands for Cellular Analysis and Notification of Antigen Risks and Yields) in the journal Science in 2003. Since then, they have been working to incorporate the technology into a portable device that could be used in a variety of settings where environmental threats might exist.

The new device, PANTHER, takes the CANARY technology and combines it with an air sampler that brings pathogens into contact with the detector cells. The prototype sensor is about a cubic foot and weighs 37 pounds and is well suited to building-protection applications. With minor modifications it could also enhance biological detection capabilities for emergency responders.

CANARY has been tested in rural and coastal environments as well as urban ones. It could eventually be used on farms or in food-processing plants to test for contamination by E. coli, salmonella or other food-borne pathogens.

Another potential application is in medical diagnostics, where the technology could be used to test patient samples, giving rapid results without having to send samples to a laboratory.

Instead of going to the doctor's office and waiting a few days for your test results, with CANARY you could get the results in just a minute or so, said Rider.


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Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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