Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Living Bio-Threat Detector

PostedMarch 30, 2008

Randy Atkins:  The detector uses living immune cells, called B cells, engineered to make antibodies which nab specific airborne bioterror threats.  That triggers a reaction, introduced through a jellyfish gene, that allows the cells to glow.

Rick Thomas:  The antibodies come in contact with the target, the B cells light up, and then of course we can easily measure the light output of the cells.

Randy Atkins:  Rick Thomas heads the environmental group of Innovative Biosensors.  He says the cells are called to action when an air monitor senses abnormal particle levels.

Rick Thomas:  From the time you collect a sample to the time we can call a positive alarm takes less than three minutes.

Randy Atkins:  Such speed could be life-saving.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103.5 F.M., WTOP Radio.

The detectors are already in use at an undisclosed D.C. location.