Fluorescent Liposomes for Detection of Biological Warfare Agent Toxins 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 potential biowarfare agent (BWA) toxins such as botulinum toxin, staphylococcal enterotoxin, saxitoxin, etc., is an important challenge during both military operations and for domestic anti-terrorism efforts. We propose to develop biomimetic polymerized liposomes/antibody conjugates that will detect toxins in aqueous samples, and will be integrated into a portable fluorescence detection device. The integrated device will allow rapid and easy parallel testing of solution samples (i.e. from swab testing) for multiple BWA toxins. When the toxins bind to the antibodies the liposomes will become fluorescent; the liposomes can be readily formulated with different antibodies targeting different toxin targets and presented in a multiplex format for parallel screening. In Phase I we will prepare liposomes with antibodies to ovalbumin as a toxin simulant and design the detection unit. We will develop the antibody manipulation techniques for preparing the functionalized liposomes and demonstrate proof-of-concept for detection, including control experiments. In Phase II we will prepare separate liposome formulations with antibodies to a variety of BWA toxins incorporated, build a prototype detection unit, and use these to screen samples for multiple targets. 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 protein detection such as food safety, diagnostics, drug discovery, and environmental testing.