A Diagnostics & Image Week

Invitrogen (Carlsbad, California), a provider of lifescience technologies for disease research and drug discovery, reported that its subsidiary, Invitrogen Federal Systems, under a $3.9 million contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA; Fort Belvoir, Virginia), completed the development of a prototype hand-held device for the detection of multiple biothreat agents in a single sample.

The portable pathogen detection system prototype is designed to detect multiple toxins such as ricin, staphylococcal entrotoxin, and botulinum toxin, as well as bacteria that cause anthrax, plague, and other diseases, in a single sample. The hand-held device uses detection chemistries, an array-based disposable flow cell, and microfluidic engineering techniques that provide for sensitive and rapid detection. The portable detector is intended for laboratory, first responder, and field-based operations.

"We continue to leverage Invitrogen's broad portfolio of technologies for homeland security and biodefense applications, while transitioning these technologies to civilian applications such as testing water and foods for pathogens of significant concern to public health," said Paul Kinnon, VP/general manager of Invitrogen's Applied Markets business unit.

The prototypes developed under this contract will be deployed to military laboratories for validation of the device in government testing.

Invitrogen Federal Systems was also awarded an $887,906 modification to an existing contract with the U.S. Department of Defense — to date worth more than $3.1 million — to produce and validate high density protein microarrays to detect biothreat agents.

The U.S. Department of Defense contract modification will fund the continued development, validation and utilization of high density protein microarrays (ProtoArrays) for detection of the causative agents of plague, smallpox, anthrax, and a number of hemorrhagic diseases, such as ebola and dengue fever. The original $970,000 Technical Assistance Agreement was awarded in January 2006, with a $1,243,000 modification granted in September 2006.

ProtoArray protein microarrays consist of complete sets of pure, functional proteins from specific organisms spotted onto glass slides in a high density configuration and represent a means to significantly enhance the detection and analysis of biomolecular interactions, said the company.