UNM-SNL Team Brings Home National Award

 A team of University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) researchers is being honored byR&D Magazinefor its development of a portable, handheld biosensor device capable of detecting dangerous viruses, bacteria and other pathogens within seconds or minutes.

No more imposing than a PDA, the handheld device uses surface-acoustic-wave technology to identify frequency waves associated with specific pathogens. UNM and SNL developed the detection platform using high-tech materials and electricity to capture and accurately identify a variety of bacteria and viruses. SNL developed the software for real-time feedback and also applied its expertise in fabricating the device.

Adaptive Methods, Inc., a developer of advanced sensor systems and sensor processing in Centreville, VA, joined the partnership last year to commercialize the technology for use in healthcare, homeland defense, and other applicable sectors.

R&D Magazinesponsors the R&D 100 Awards to recognize the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year. The R&D 100 Awards have long been a benchmark of excellence for industry sectors as diverse as telecommunications, high-energy physics, software, manufacturing, and biotechnology. Winners of the R&D 100 Awards are selected by an independent judging panel and the editors ofR&D Magazine.

“This technology is portable, versatile, self-contained, battery driven and capable of detecting multiple viruses or bacteria,” says Dr. Richard Larson, Vice President for Research at the HSC. “This is the very positive result of blending HSC and SNL expertise to develop a valuable, practical medical and defense tool.”

Beyond critical emergency medical applications in the field – like the detection of harmful bio-agents after an attack or dangerous pathogens following a natural disaster – clinical access to this technology could open doors to numerous local health care applications. “We’re very interested in how this biosensor might be applied to a wide variety of infectious diseases,” Larson adds.

Work originally began on the sensor more than a decade ago to rapidly detect Sin-Nombre Virus (Hanta Virus), which first emerged in New Mexico in the 1990s. More interest and subsequent progress was made on the device after the Anthrax scares following 9-11.

Federal funding from the National Institutes of Health supported refining the device’s sensitivity, specificity and speed, while developing more applications for specific viruses. Currently, the sensor is being further developed in partnership with the University of California, Davis to detect Hepatitis and immunodeficiency viruses. For more information on UNM Health Sciences Center research, visithttp://hsc.unm.edu/research/. For more information on the “R&D 100 Award”, visithttp://www.rdmag.com/Awards/RD-100-Awards/R-D-100-Awards/.

Contact: Luke Frank, 272-3322

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