We propose to build a portable, field-deployable blood test monitor to immediately identify toxic chemical agent buildup in persons suspected of having been exposed to such agents. The technology we plan to utilize is surface- enhanced Raman scattering to look for the presence of environmental agents directly as trace contaminants in the bloodstream. The proposed system is comprised of a low-resolution Raman detection unit coupled to a strip reader that analyzes a drop of blood placed on a gold nanoparticle strip. The low-resolution surface-enhanced Raman spectrum (SERS) obtained from the blood drop on the strip is compared with a spectral peak library in the unit for analysis of the presence and concentration of specific chemical components present in the patient's blood. The Phase II research program is intended to demonstrate on real blood samples the detection capability for a device based on SERS low- resolution Raman methods in a cost-effective, commercially viable configuration. Such a device will be particularly effective in the detection of organic chemical agents in blood, including volatile organic compounds, polybrominated diphenyls (PBDEs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and toxic industrial chemical exposure such as organophosphonate pesticides, cyanide, and chemical warfare agents and their metabolites.
In the event of an environmental incident, a terrorist threat, or an industrial accident involving toxic industrial chemicals (TIC), rapid identification of the natue of the materials involved and its spread and exposure to the population is essential for proper response. Fast detection and identification of exposure to such threats can provide prompt warning of the extent and severity of the exposure and save many lives by enabling and adopting protective measures. And by identifying the presence of the actual environmental chemical agent or its metabolites promptly and at emerging concentrations, the presence of a threat may be identified and isolated early in the exposure cycle, potentially saving lives in the population at large.