Detecting Biothreats at the Point of Interest
Disease outbreaks and rising antimicrobial resistance (AMR), together with accidental or deliberate release of biological threat (biothreat) agents, render populations vulnerable to public health emergencies of international concern (PHEIC). Release of such products, whether intentional or unintentional, could have severe consequences for public, animal and environmental health. Areas that are poor, remote, and afflicted by mass violence or that otherwise lack adequate disease prevention, detection, response and control systems (including robust disease surveillance and sample management systems), are particularly vulnerable to disease outbreaks and adverse biosecurity events of pandemic potential.
We deployed a low cost, currently available technology as a model technology to identify the gaps in conducting biothreat detection in field conditions. We analyzed technological, logistical and operational aspects of biothreat detection at the point-of-interest from preanalytical to analytical to post-analytical processes. We applied knowledge from field evaluations to the identification of new research opportunities that will lead to technologies, systems and processes that overcome constraints, and expand the scope, capacity and cost-effectiveness of biothreat and pandemic agent detection at remote sites and border regions where these capabilities are most critically needed
Finidngs (more to be detailed in publication)
• Rapidly deployable pathogen-agnostic detection technologies – improved NA extraction, microfluidics, format
• Simple locally-run bioinformatics platform
• Serious research commitment required to fully appreciate “baseline”
• Urgent need for algorithm development to determine biothreat relevance & Co – phenotype / genotype / context