Fluorescent Coated Filters for Detection of Biological Warfare Agent Microorganisms in Water

Period of Performance: 10/01/2002 - 03/31/2003


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Analytical Biological Services, Inc.
Wilmington, DE 19801
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

SRI International
333 Ravenswood Avenue Mail stop: 306-17
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Institution POC


Reliable and sensitive detection of microbial biowarfare agents (BWAs) such as Bacillus anthracis, Yersinia pestis, and Francisella tularensis is an important challenge for both military operations and domestic anti-terrorism efforts. We are proposing to develop an antibody functionalized biomimetic polymer coating for filter membranes that will become fluorescent when exposed to samples containing BWA microorganisms. These coated filter membranes will be integrated into a portable fluorescence detection device that will also be developed. The integrated device will allow rapid and easy parallel testing of solution samples - either water trapped aerosols or swab samples - for multiple BWA microorganisms. The filter will concentrate the microorganisms and then become fluorescent as the bacteria bind to the antibodies. In Phase I we will develop the antibody/polymer coatings, detect Bacillus subtilis spores as an anthrax simulant, perform appropriate control experiments, and design the detection unit. In Phase II we will prepare coated filters for the detection of several biowarfare agents, build a prototype detection unit and use this to develop screening protocols for detecting multiple microorganism targets in parallel. An easy-to-use rapid portable detection system that can be used by both combat support units and first responders for early warning of attacks with biological warfare agents and post-attack forensic purposes. This technology will also have significant dual-use applications in other areas of microorganism detection such as food safety, diagnostics and environmental testing.