BioterrorismDetecting botulinum toxin

Published 2 December 2011

A company specializing in molecular diagnostic tests based on Single Molecule Array (SiMoA) technology has been awarded a contract from DHS to develop an assay capable of detecting single molecules of botulinum toxin (BoNT) within complex environmental samples

 

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Quanterix Corporation, a specialist in molecular diagnostic tests based on Single Molecule Array (SiMoA) technology, announced it has been awarded a one year $250,155 contract from DHS to develop an assay capable of detecting single molecules of botulinum toxin (BoNT) within complex environmental samples. In collaboration with the Botulinum Research Center (BRC) at UMass Dartmouth, Quanterix will develop and validate a high sensitivity assay capable of measuring extremely low levels of the BoNT agent.

The detection of low copy numbers of toxins and pathogenic bacteria for both clinical and environmental applications requires highly sensitive and rapid detection technologies capable of measuring relevant targets within complex sample mixtures,” said David Duffy, Ph.D., vice president of research at Quanterix. “The 1,000–fold increase in sensitivity enabled by SiMoA will facilitate the direct detection of the toxins produced by active bacteria at much lower levels than is possible today. As a result, the detection of BoNT protein will provide important functional information on the presence of bacteria that complements nucleic acid identification. We believe that this approach could be extended to other bacteria and applications, for example, hospital acquired infections.”

Dr. David Hodge from DHS added, “Quanterix&rsqo;s technology is expected to address a number of challenges currently faced by DHS for identifying active agents of bioterrorism, and offers great promise for a variety of applications in both the private and public sectors.”

Early and accurate detection of botulinum toxin is critical for our national security and public health. The ability to detect extremely low levels of toxin could significantly improve the diagnosis of botulism and better protect humans in biomedical and bio–defense scenarios,” said Dr. Bal Ram Singh, BRC Director, and a world leader in the research and detection of botulinum toxin.

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