The Knowledge Foundation has announced that Sandia National Laboratories’ Dr. Steven S. Branda will present a paper entitled “Microfluidics-Based Systems for Rapid Identification and Characterization of Novel Pathogens” at the 17th Detection Technologies conference next week at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, VA from November 9-10, 2010.
Bioweapons and emerging infectious diseases pose serious and growing threats to our national security. Effective response to an outbreak critically depends upon rapid and accurate identification and characterization of the causative pathogen. Probe-based methods are problematic due to need for a priori knowledge of pathogen properties such as nucleic acid sequences. In recent years, unbiased next generation sequencing of nucleic acids extracted from clinical samples has enabled discovery of novel pathogens. This brute-force approach can be powerful, but it is inefficient and frequently ineffectual, primarily because the signal-to-background (pathogen-to-host nucleic acid) ratio in clinical samples is often vanishingly small. Sandia is developing a new automated molecular biology technology that selectively suppresses host background in nucleic acid extracts from clinical samples and prepares the residual nucleic acid (enriched for pathogen-derived content) for next generation sequencing analysis. This microfluidics-based technology, coupled with a new bioinformatics pipeline for efficient analysis of next generation sequencing datasets, comprises a Rapid Threat Organism Recognition (RapTOR) system for focused sequencing of pathogen genome/transcriptome constituents in the context of complex host backgrounds. Additionally, RapTOR's technology platform serves as a foundation for development of a new system for automated, high-content analysis of host-pathogen interactions. This complementary system is designed to support functional characterization of novel pathogens, primarily based on the transcriptional responses that they elicit in host cells. Application of the two systems in tandem will greatly accelerate identification and characterization of novel pathogens, and thereby support rational and effective response to infectious disease outbreaks.
Detection Technologies is an internationally recognized event for experts in detection and identification of biological and chemical threats and will explore the latest R&D developments as well as ready-to-market systems for major biothreat detection, identification, and analysis both in the field and at the point-of-care. This year's keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Frances Ligler, Senior Scientist for Biosensors & Biomaterials at the Naval Research Laboratory, who will discuss new concepts for molecular recognition, integration of microfluidics and optics, simplified fabrication technologies, and improved approaches to biosensor system integration. In addition, Dr. Paul Schaudies, on behalf of the Committee on Effectiveness of National Biosurveillance Systems: BioWatch and the Public Health System, The National Academies, will present a special BioWatch update. This presentation will review the specifics of the study charge, the committee process and deliberation, as well as the findings and recommendations of the committee.