The objective of this research is to develop a laser-based method of analysis into a point-of-care blood diagnostic to detect blood infected by viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Such an instrument will not require highly specialized training and will provide rapid identification of the contamination once a blood sample is introduced for analysis. Preliminary investigations in partnership with the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research and TriCore Reference Laboratories indicates that Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) combined with advanced mathematical and statistical analysis techniques has this potential. The work being proposed is to extend these investigations to better understand the spectroscopic signals contributing to the differentiation of Herpes Simplex Virus, HIV, Staphylococcus aureus, and Trypanosoma cruzi in human blood and means of enhancing these signals to build a reliable detection algorithm deployable on instrument for point-of-care diagnosis.
The ability to detect and diagnose blood-borne infections is an important capability for both patient treatment and for ensuring the safety of the nation?s donor blood supply. Today a diagnosis typically takes 24 hours or more to complete and requires the use of highly skilled personnel. The ability to rapidly diagnose blood-borne infections such that the analysis results are available in a matter of minutes or even a matter of a few hours would greatly enhance the ability to identify, contain, and treat blood-borne infections and to more rapidly release donor blood for use.