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U.S. Patent Awarded for Airborne Pathogen Diagnostic Device

E coli bacteria magnified (ARS/Wikimedia Commons)

E coli bacteria magnified (USDA Agricultural Research Service/Wikimedia Commons)

PositiveID Corporation in Delray Beach, Florida says it has received a patent on a key element of its technology to test for airborne bacteria and viruses and deliver results within 30 minutes. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded patent no. 8,133,451 for the technology on 13 March 2012 and assigned it to Microfluidics Systems, a subsidiary of PositiveID Corp.

Current bio-threat detection technologies, notes the patent, require air to be drawn into the analysis device, usually with a type of fan. Some of the current technologies also require the use of lasers or LEDs to scan the air path and interrogate the particles for comparison to the wavelengths of known harmful substances, such as anthrax spores.  The detection devices then alert the operator or trigger an alarm, however they do not specifically identify the pathogen.

The patent covers a microfluidics (lab-on-a-chip) module that prepares the target substances for analysis. The module, configured as a cartridge in a larger testing system or as a stand-alone device, uses chromatography, a lab technique for separating molecular mixtures, first by electric charge and then by molecular size or weight. The captured and purified substance can then be tested.

PositiveID says the technology is a critical feature of its DragonFly product, developed for point-of-care diagnostics that aims to replace lab-based diagnostics, which can take hours or days and require trained technicians. The enclosed cartridge design of the technology, says the company, reduces chances for human error in the field. DragonFly can be used for the detection of pathogens ranging from E. coli and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria to influenza and human papilloma (HPV) viruses, says PositiveID.

Read more: New Wireless Sensor Detects Bacterial Beach Contamination

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