Fast, sensitive and agent specific tests are the fundamental underlying technologies behind the development of Bioagent diagnostic devices. Technologies which are widely used today such as RT-PCR, are either agent specific but not fast enough, or require sample collection in the field for analytical evaluation by a suite of approaches in a laboratory both some time and distance away. Even when in the laboratory, the collected samples can still take many hrs to analyze individually. At present, no platform technology is available commercially, which can detect single copy numbers of a specific agent in the field within one minute, or indeed allow fast high-throughput analysis single-copy sensitivity in a laboratory setting. In this regard the Geddes laboratories have for the last 2 years been developing a platform technology which threatens to change the way we consider testing for the presence of Bioagents. Microwave- Accelerated Metal-Enhanced Fluorescence (MAMEF) combines the use of Metal-Enhanced Fluorescence (MEF) to amplify fluorescence signatures up to many orders of magnitude which significantly improves assay sensitivity, with the use of low power focused microwaves to kinetically accelerate bio-reactions (assays) to completion within seconds, without denaturation of the assay components. Under a present MARCE developmental award, the Geddes group has developed a highly specific Anthrax assay which can detect <100 copies of the Anthrax PA genome within 20 seconds. In addition a 5 second, spore and the vegetative organism, lysing technology additionally allows for the collection of DNA for its rapid testing, with a total sample preparation and assay run time under one minute. In this MARCE-2 renewal, the MAMEF technology is to stand as a central hub technology for the Diagnostics group, with the general specific aims of: 1) Supporting other MARCE cores and adopting the MAMEF technology to aid other programs, e.g. in vaccine challenge studies etc, 2) Continued development of the MAMEF platform for other bioagents at the core interest of the MARCE, and the development of the MAMEF technology into a multiplexed platform, capable of detecting either numerous bioagents simultaneously or indeed the high-throughput screening of many samples simultaneously and 3) to seek commercialization of the technologies.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed research and sensing platform will allow multiple bioagents, which are adverse to Human Health, to be detected with high sensitivity and at an unprecedented speed. In addition, multiple clinical and bioagents samples can be simultaneously measured, providing a significant diagnostic tool in the event of another bio-terror attack.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1-DDS-M)
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University of Maryland Baltimore
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