Applied Biosystems has been awarded a $24.5-million contract to accelerate the development of a prototype instrument that will improve the way infectious diseases are identified for epidemiological and biosecurity purposes. When this project is completed, the new system is expected to yield precise, reproducible results by simultaneously analyzing for multiple pathogens in a single test in less than one hour.

Last month, Applied Biosystems presented key components of the prototype to the Air Force, which will be responsible for validating the pathogen identification system. The prototypes have the ability to identify up to 10 pathogens simultaneously on a test array the size of a credit card.

“The current technologies used to test for infectious pathogens reside in a centralized laboratory,” says Renaldo Juanso of Applied Biosystems. “By developing a system that simplifies the processing and analysis of pathogen detection, we expect to enable a new generation of decentralized molecular detection systems that can be used in remote locations with easier operation.”

The new systems are also expected to introduce a more flexible, modular design that will allow for customization of new assays that can detect emerging pathogens. Such modular systems may have future applications in other areas of biosecurity and forensics, animal testing, and food quality testing.

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