Automated Pathogen Tracking System
Develop a nano-electronic sensor to provide autonomous, rapid, sensitive, selective and reliable detection of multiple viruses simultaneously for environmental monitoring, homeland security, health care, and food safety applications.
Sponsor: ISCA Technologies, Inc.2060 Chicago Avenue
Riverside, CA 92507
Insect-vectored diseases adversely affect over half the world's human population, subjecting them to a never-ending cycle of suffering due to illness, death, agricultural losses, and the associated economic impact. Yet information on pathogens in the environment is severely limited by the lack of technology for routine, targeted scouting and monitoring of at-risk areas, and for rapid and sensitive detection and quantification of specific pathogens in the field. Pathogens and vectors of disease are either monitored manually or visually by screening hosts for signs of the vector and/or disease, or not monitored at all. ISCA Technologies plans to combine cutting-edge technologies from biology, bioengineering, computer science and engineering with novel developments in ecological monitoring, robotics and nanotechnology to develop the Automated Pathogen Tracking System (APTSYS). APTSYS will consist of insect mini-scouts that traverse the environment visiting specific microhabitats; smart trap devices designed to attract and extract samples from mini-scouts as a means of indirectly sampling the environment; and a nanosensory array to process the extracted field samples for diagnosis and quantification of pathogens. These data will be sent to a centralized database where data management, statistical and reporting tools will automatically create reports and trigger specific alarms to a pre-established list of personnel. The technical risk lies in creating field-worthy devices that integrate solutions from diverse, challenging fields including automated insect population monitoring, nano-manufacturing, insect behavior and robotic sampling. If successful, the project will yield a field sampling system that can provide autonomous, rapid, sensitive, selective and reliable detection for multiple important viruses simultaneously. The system would be useful not only for environmental monitoring but also for homeland security, water monitoring, health care, and food safety applications. Some of the new technology also could be useful in the rapidly advancing fields of proteomics and genomics.