Fairway Medical Technologies wins US Navy contract to develop battlefield blood-borne pathogen detector

12 September 2008

Fairway Medical Technologies, Inc. has received a $900,000, 3-year contract from the US Department of the Navy to apply its pulsed laser optoacoustic technology to the real-time detection of blood borne pathogens and biological warfare agents under battlefield conditions.

The grant is part of a larger, $3 million project led by Prof. Randolph Glickman, Principal Investigator from the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) at San Antonio.

The project will be a collaboration between UTHSC, Fairway Medical Technologies and the Naval Health Research Center Detachment Directed Energy Bioeffects Laboratory at Brooks City-Base.

“This research is intended to develop a rugged battlefield instrument capable of detecting biological agents such as anthrax, plague, smallpox, and others with the speed, accuracy, sensitivity and reliability of analytical techniques and instruments found in the state-of-the-art laboratory today,” said Dr. Glickman.

The optoacoustic biosensor tests samples of blood plasma or other liquids by using monoclonal antibodies (MAB) targeted to specific pathogens.

“Elongated gold nanoparticles designed to strongly absorb near-infrared laser pulses can be conjugated to each type of MAB to create a specificity mechanism that will signal the presence of targeted pathogens,” explained Dr. Alexander Oraevsky, VP of Research and Development at Fairway and an inventor of this nano-biosensor.

“When the nanoparticles produce an acoustic response to laser pulses, the presence and concentration of the pathogens is established.”

Unique ultrawide-band transducers developed by Fairway for medical imaging and other analytical optoacoustic systems fit the signal acquisition needs of this application, he added.

“This is an important continuation of Fairway’s current government and industry-sponsored research. When the R&D part of this project is over, Fairway will manufacture the devices for the Navy and other DoD customers,” said Fairway president James Meador.

“Early front-line detection of biological threats using this kind of rugged battlefield system will provide critical information that can save Navy sailors and lives of other US military personnel, as well as support fast, well-informed command decision-making,” commented Norman Barsalou, project co-investigator from the Navy Bioeffects lab. “We are proud that this collaboration between the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, the Naval Health Research Center Detachment at Brooks and Fairway Medical Technologies can move this important work ahead.”

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