The challenge for first responders, physicians in the emergency room, public health personnel, as well as for food manufacturers, distributors and retailers is accurate and reliable identification of pathogenic agents and their corresponding diseases. This is the weakest point in biological agent detection capability today.
There is intense research for new molecular detection technologies that could be used for very accurate detection of pathogens that would be a concern to first responders. These include the need for sensors for multiple applications as varied as understanding the ecology of pathogenic micro-organisms, forensics, environmental sampling for detect-to-treat applications, biological sensors for ‘detect to warn’ in infrastructure protection, responses to reports of ‘suspicious powders’, and customs and borders enforcement, to cite a few examples.
The benefits of accurate detection include saving millions of dollars annually by reducing disruption of the workforce and the national economy and improving delivery of correct countermeasures to those who are most in need of the information to provide protective and/or response measures.