This article was originally posted on smallcapvoice.com.
Since the tragic attacks of September 11th, 2001, and the terrifying Amerithrax case, the world has become ever so aware of the threat of biological warfare and how very real this threat is. However, innovative companies like PositiveID Corporation (OTCBB: PSID) and their subsidiary MicroFluidic Systems have developed a bioagent detection device that will change how our government and military fight biowarfare.
So, what is bioagent detection anyway? Bioagent detection devices test the air for the presence of deliberately-released biological pathogens that are dangerous enough to be used as a biological weapon. Bacillus anthracis, perhaps the most commonly-known bioagent, causes Anthrax, a typically fatal disease. Because some of these hazardous agents can be made from readily-found ingredients, the need for solid protection against these types of deadly attacks continues to grow.
During the weeks immediately following the September 11 attacks, letters containing highlydeadly anthrax spores were sent via the postal system to several prominent news anchors and media offices, as well as two U.S. Senators. Five people were killed and 17 others were infected. For weeks, American citizens were terrorized by news reports of potentially-lethal exposure and warned of the deathly affects. Fearing for their safety, American demanded protection.
In response, the government formed BioWatch, a program to detect the release of airborne pathogens intended as an attack on major United States cities. The program was described as “the nation’s first early warning network of sensors to detect biological attack” and has included a system of filters located within the Environmental Protection Agency’s air filters. Collected data is analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and suspected threats are passed on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
However, criticism of the BioWatch program has brought some potential issues to the forefront. Many have expressed concerns about relying on the BioWatch system alone and some have pointed out specific points of possible failure in the system, from poor placement of filters in locations that are not optimal or are likely to incur bio attacks, to sizable gaps in coverage. Some noted that the BioWatch filters kill whatever pathogen has activated them, subsequently eliminating the possibility of further scientific testing. Others claim the current filters would be unable to detect indoor or underground bioagent releases, and would therefore, fail to protect our country in an attack.
Since the birth of BioWatch, the U.S. government and Department of Homeland Security have remain focused on keeping us safe from bio warfare attacks and bioterrorism. Millions have been spent on research supporting the development of better detection devices. America’s demand for a better answer is stronger than ever.
Luckily, PositiveID Corporation’s (“PositiveID”) subsidiary MicroFluidic Systems (“MFS”) developed a bio-threat detection device called M-BAND that will drastically change the world’s ability to defend against bioterrorism.
Developed over eight years, under contract for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), MBAND is an early warning system designed to detect the presence of intentionally-released aerosolized biological agents. For up to 30 days, M-BAND uses a biocell monitor, running autonomously, continuously collecting samples and analyzing the air. Designed to detect bacteria, viruses, and toxins, these machines can provide results within a mere three hours. Typically placed in high-traffic areas and networked together, M-BAND devices effectively monitor for air-borne pathogens by testing the air every 30 minutes and delivering results through a secure wireless network to a central location for extensive analysis.
After eight years of development, M-BAND offers a real solution. By providing real-time data, M-BAND provides awareness and protection against potential biological warfare attack. Furthermore, M-BAND can be remotely configured to test for all three pathogen types, both simultaneously at programmable intervals or any one in particular, including DNA-based pathogens, with or without either RNA-based organisms or toxins.
Among the bioagents that M-BAND can identify are strains of Bacillus anthracis, also known as anthrax, Yersinia pestis, responsible for causing Black Death and bubonic plague, Francisella tularensis, which causes tularemia or rabbit fever, Burkholderia mallei, which causes Glanders, and Burkholderia pseudomallei, the cause of melioidosis. Because these agents can kill so many people so quickly, an effective warning system is necessary and more important than ever to implement effective quarantine procedures as a line of defense.
The Department of Homeland Security has allocated $3 billion in the budget for bioaresol monitors to setup a network of early warning systems across the country. Luckily, among the large companies and organizations involved with bioagent detection, the unlikely underdog could save the day. The small-but-mighty PositiveID Corporation with M-BAND, an amazing biocell device, is changing the world of bioagent detection.
In a recent press release, PositiveID announced their upcoming presentation of their bioagent detection device called M-BAND at the 10th Annual American Society for Microbiology Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting, scheduled to take place from February 26-29, 2012, in Washington, DC. Although smaller than some defense companies, PositiveID Corporation is making big waves on the BioWatch scene. By exhibiting with The Boeing Company, PositiveID stands to change the way the world fights bio warfare and bioterrorism.
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