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U.S. company says rapid diagnosis technology could save lives

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 02:26

Feb 16 - An Ohio company has come up with a technology it believes could save millions of lives through the rapid diagnosis of deadly bacterial diseases. Nanologix says it's ultra-fast BioNanoPore - or BNP - diagnostic kit allows researchers to identify pathogens like anthrax or plague in a quarter of the time it takes existing methods. Rob Muir reports.

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At a Biodefense conference in Washingon, DC, earlier this month, Nanologix CEO Bret Barnhizer was showing off a diagnostic tool he believes will save lives. SOUNDBITE (English) BRET BARNHIZER, NANOLOGIX CEO: "It's a sandwich membrane technology where the membrane provides the platform for cells to grow and grow as micro-colonies which are able to be viewed much faster than standard colonies." The membrane is made of cellulose. Much more than that Bret Barnhizer won't say. But independent tests have shown remarkable results with the technology. They revealed the presence of deadly anthrax agents after an average of six hours, compared wirth 24 hours using conventional methods. Detection of E. coli, salmonella, and bubonic plague, was achieved in a in a similar time frame. Bret Barnhizer says the benefits of rapid diagnostics are clear. SOUNDBITE (English) BRET BARNHIZER, NANOLOGIX CEO: "In the case of an infection you can find out what the infection is quicker than any other technology, much faster. You can then treat with antibiotics specific to the whatever the infection is and avoid the potential for antibiotic resistance development through the standard process of treating with broad spectrum antibiotics which is pretty standard throughout the world." he said. Dr Jonathan Faro of the Univesity of Texas in Houston is currently testing the technology for its ability to rapidly detect Group B strep in pregnant women. Group B strep is the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborns. It is passed on from mothers to their unborn children and can cause menengitis and pneumonia in newborns. It is often fatal. Dr Faro says rapid testing technology could have a dramatic impact in reducing overall incidents of death and disability caused by Group B strep. Conventional testing takes between 48 and 72 hours to yield results. Faro says the BNP technology has proven much faster. SOUNDBITE (English) JONATHAN FARO M.D: "We're using antibodies that isolate and detect the Group B strep and we're seeing results in as early as three hours but reliably by six hours", said Faro. The field of bio-medicine holds great promise for the BNP technology but Bret Barnhizer says it's not the only field where it can have an impact. He says it also has application in biodefense tool and in food and water testing, yet it's built on methods first developed in the nineteenth century. SOUNDBITE (English) BRET BARNHIZER, NANOLOGIX CEO: "Petri's been in use since the 1880s and this is a technology with the sandwich membrane that probably should have been invented four decades ago but was not and it's one of the biggest leaps that's happened in petri technology that's happened in decades." Nanologix says its BNP test kit sets a new standard for accurate, high-speed diagnostics and Bret Barnhizer is on a mission to spread the word. Rob Muir, Reuters.

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U.S. company says rapid diagnosis technology could save lives

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 02:26