28th International

Biothreat & Pathogen Detection

Advanced Technologies for Detection, Diagnostics and Analytics


The 28th International Biodetection Technologies: Biothreat and Pathogen Detection is an internationally recognized meeting for experts in detection & identification of biological threats. This conference will address the key topics in pathogen detection and present the latest R&D and technological innovation in ready-to-market systems. In addition, this meeting will focus on the latest strategies to overcoming the hurdles to the identification of global biological threats and translational gaps in bringing technologies from lab to field. This conference will feature stimulating discussions, perspectives of end users, high quality case studies and provides the opportunity to network with the leading experts in detection from around the globe.

6月15日 (一)

7:30 am Registration and Morning Coffee


8:25 Chairperson's Opening Remarks

Cory Bernhards, PhD, Research MicroBiologist, CBR, Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)

8:30 Diagnostics in Resource-Limited Environments - Lessons Learned over the Past 3 Years

Chris Taitt, PhD, Research Biochemist, Center for Biomolecular Science & Engineering, U.S. Naval Research Lab

In many developing countries, there is a lack of reliable diagnostic tests that have been adequately characterized for sensitivity and specificity in austere environments. Without the knowledge of how tests perform in challenging environments, even the most facile tests may fail to provide accurate information when deployed to remote locations.  In collaboration with clinical researchers in Sierra Leone, West Africa, we have characterized how sample type affects sensitivity and specificity in malaria PCRs and have determine performance characteristics of multiple assay types under conditions of high heat, high humidity, and minimal user training. We will also describe challenges inherent in implementation of stringent, technically challenging gold standard tests (microbiological, molecular) under these conditions.

9:00 Molecular Taxonomic Profiling for Known and Unknown Biothreat Characterization

Willy Valdivia-Granda, Founder & CEO, Orion Integrated Biosciences, Inc.

With more than 1,500 distinct infectious pathogens, tracking and ranking the risk of known and unknown biothreats is a challenging issue for national security stakeholders. Despite of this persistent threat, several reports concluded that the US, as well as many other countries, are underprepared to counter conventional and advanced bioweapons. Because of their open nature, reference biological databases can be purposely manipulated to affect their integrity and usefulness for attribution and bioforensics. Here we introduce a component of RIGEL biodefense enterprise named MTP which includes a genomic-database and ana analytical system to process genomic information from different sequencing platforms. Billions of records from hundreds of dimensions are corrected, disambiguated, consolidated and integrated with scientific information, aerial, land and marine transportation patterns. RIGEL robust genomic-based biosurveillance and strategic analytical architecture can prevent and characterize the risk of known and unknown biothreats, support US interests on biosecurity and enhance static and dynamic characterization while guiding rapid and robust countermeasure development.

9:30 ThreatSEQ: DNA Screening as a Service

Neeraj Rao, General Manager, ThreatSEQ, Battelle

Due to the dual-use nature of emerging biotechnology, biosecurity is a necessary component for the synthetic biology industry which routinely produces synthetic DNA. Battelle has connected the challenges associated with enabling the responsible development of synthetic biology with our unique position to provide an economically and technically sound biosecurity solution. The result is the ThreatSEQ DNA screening web service for the detection and characterization of "sequences of concern" in genomic data. This technology gives the synthetic biology industry a powerful new resource to reduce the risk that dangerous organisms will be created through gene synthesis, accidentally or deliberately. Using advanced algorithms and thousands of threat-specific sequence data, the ThreatSEQ web service quickly and accurately detects DNA sequences of concern and provides thinformation in a concise report. The service includes an advanced biocuration pipeline that reduces the burden on gene synthesis providers to maintain effective bie osecurity. The platform accomplishes the outcome by streamlining the sequence review process through an industry-oriented user interface to review screening results, that displays high-quality metadata and a graphical representation of the genomic context. In this presentation, we will highlight the development of the application, the current mode of operation, and discuss relevant policy and regulatory issues associated with DNA sequence screening.

10:00 Networking Coffee Break

10:30 A Multi-Parametric Approach towards Biological Threat Detection

Neeraja Venkateswaran, PhD, Senior Scientist, R&D, TetraCore, Inc.

A multi-parametric approach to detect biological agents provides an efficient and robust solution to resolve the problematic challenge of rapid detection of intentional or natural outbreaks of rare and novel pathogens as biological threat agents. The public health services of local governments and international organizations struggle with such challenges. Rapid detection entails testing for agent-related specific protein markers, toxins, nucleic acids, metabolites, etc. in various test formats, devices, and sensors. The analysis of a suspected sample using crossover methodologies using a multi-parametric approach where the test analytes are independent of each other and also highly co-related can provide a definitive result. This kind of independently verified testing provides high confidence in either the positive or negative detection in any high consequence situation. The utilization of antibody-based and nucleic acid amplification-based tools has also improved time to screening compared to classical microbiological culture methods. Novel technologies made with ease of use in the field in mind have made complex skill-based technologies equally adaptable to users at high, moderate, and low skill levels. An example of the implementation of this approach for the detection of bacterial toxins will be discussed in the presentation.

11:00 One Stop Shop: Lipid Membranes for Pathogenic Biomarker Detection

Gabriel Montano, PhD, Professor and Department Chair, Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science; Chief Scientist, Center for Materials Interfaces in Research and Applications (﹐IRA!); Diversity Fellow, Northern Arizona University

Model lipid membranes are often used as mimics of native cellular membranes.  They have distinct advantages in understanding membrane interactions as it is possible to control their composition and environmental conditions and are open to interrogation via a number of high-resolution, surface analysis techniques.  In this talk, I will present examples of using model lipid membranes as detection platforms for amphiphilic pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs).  Single-step detection platforms are demonstrated that exhibit high sensitivity.  In such platforms, biotargets are added to model membranes and samples are characterized via surface analysis techniques such as surface plasmon resonance fluorescence.  In addition to high-sensitivity detection, it is possible to learn about how targets interact with membranes.   In some cases, such as Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), unusual patterns of membrane interaction (hole formation are observed that infer useful information about LPS-membrane interaction with potential physiological ramifications.  I will discuss these novel interactions and demonstrate an ability to exploit such interactions for biomaterials applications.    

11:30 Improved Detection of Low-Abundance Bacterial Pathogens in Aerosol Samples

John Dunbar, Scientist, Bioscience, Los Alamos National Lab

To detect pathogens at low abundance in aerosol samples by PCR, highly efficient extraction of nucleic acids is crucial to avoid false negatives.  We addressed this problem by evaluating the performance of six DNA extraction methods for recovery of target-specific DNA from samples with four bacterial agents at low abundance. These methods differed in approach for cell disruption, DNA capture, DNA purification. The six methods varied 1000-fold in the recovery of DNA from spores or cells of surrogates of Bacillus anthracisYersinia pestisBurkholderia pseudomallei, and Francisella tularensisThe top-performing method consistently recovered DNA sufficient for detection of bacterial targets on filters after 24-hr outdoor aerosol collection. 

12:00 pm Sponsored Presentation (Opportunity Available)

12:30 Luncheon Presentation (Sponsorship Opportunity Available) or Enjoy Lunch on Your Own

1:00 Session Break


1:55 Chairperson's Remarks

Willy Valdivia-Granda, Founder and CEO, Orion Biosciences, Inc.

2:00 Rapid and Fieldable Biothreat Detection Using Nanopore Sequencing

Cory Bernhards, PhD, Research Microbiologist, CBR, Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Rapid and accurate biological identification technologies are critically needed in the field, especially for unknown, emerging, and genetically modified threats. Nanopore sequencing technology enables the ability to conduct rapid whole genome analysis in places where more traditional next-generation sequencing technologies cannot. We have developed nanopore sequencing workflows for the analysis of air filter samples from the NYC Subway as well as CENTAUR sample analysis facilities in South Korea. Separately, for far-forward sequencing applications, we have demonstrated raw sample to result reporting in under 35 minutes on site during military exercise scenarios. Our workflow uses offline bioinformatics software that we have developed for rapid and automated metagenomic analysis. One of our current focuses is to add the ability to rapidly detect RNA viruses in the field using direct RNA nanopore sequencing. We also continue to evaluate other emerging nanopore sequencing-related technologies for incorporation into our workflows in order to simplify procedures, increase portability, and improve cost-efficiency.

James Brayer, Associate Director, Market Development, Oxford Nanopore Technologies Inc.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) has developed a disruptive mobile platform that is enabling researchers to generate NGS data for novel applications where portability, simplicity and real time data acquisition are critical.  Learn about recent advancements to our platform where increased accuracy and output will further expand the applications that our devices will enable.  ONT has developed new chemistry and library prep kits that will improve our raw accuracy and simplicity to go from biological samples to sequence ready molecules. 

3:00 Opening Refreshment Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing


4:00 BARDA Landscape for Biosensors and Diagnostics for the Home

Justin Yang, Program Analyst, Biomedical Advanced R&D Authority, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

The Biomedical Advanced, Research and Development Authority (BARDA) invests in technologies that address natural and man-made threats. From the development of a radiation biodosimeter to a blood screening tool for chemical agent exposure, BARDA is the US Government late stage and advanced development arm of research and development (R&D). Over the past 12+ years, BARDA has brought to market over 52 FDA approved
products to market.

Panel Discussion

4:30 Avoiding the "Valley of Death" and Examples of Best Practices towards Surviving the Late Stages of Development through Early Commercialization

Panel Moderator:

Calvin C. Chue, PhD, Research Biologist, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, U.S. Army

Multiple fields experience the same phenomenon where many innovative ideas may gain initial support, but few make it to sustainable commercial success. This so-called "valley of death" can be surmounted with the right partnerships, right metrics and right requirements. This panel will feature examples of success working with the US Government Chem Bio defense community to bring products to commercialization.

5:30 Welcome Reception in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

6:30 Close of Day

6月16日 (二)

8:00 am Breakfast Roundtable Discussions


8:55 Chairperson's Remarks

Chris Taitt, PhD, Research Biochemist, Center for Biomolecular Science & Engineering, U.S. Naval Research Lab

9:00 Blindspot: A Novel Multiplex Lateral Flow Immunoassay Format for Rapid Evaluation of Results Potentially Using a Cell Phone Application

Randy Hofmann, PhD, Principal Scientist, Group Leader, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, U.S. Army

Lateral Flow Immunoassays (LFIs) are the primary detection component of many of the Department of Defense's (DoD) fielded biological warfare agent (BWA) detection systems. LFIs are simple devices used in field forward settings to detect the presence of a target biological agent in a sample matrix without the need for specialized and costly equipment. The advantages of LFIs are: they are simple, easy to use even by nontechnical persons, hand-held, easily transported, do not require additional reagents, relatively inexpensive, have long shelf life and are easy to manufacture. There is a need for multiplex LFI devices especially in scenarios where sample volume is particularly limiting and cutting time and assay costs are critical. Typically, in the simplest conventional form of an LFI device, there are at least two lines: one (the control line) that usually contains anti-species antibody and reacts to the antibody-gold conjugate showing that the assay worked; and the second (test line) that contains a specific detector antibody and revealed only if the target agent is present in the sample. There are limitations to the construction of a true multiplex assay with multiple stripes to detect more than one analyte from the same sample simultaneously. They are: 1) line bleed; 2) real estate; 3) non-specific binding when the sample passes through multiple stripes; and 4) flow rate. We propose here a modified design for multiplex LFI using Braille font (hence called BlindSpot) and with results that are readable by a cell phone app. In its simplified version, each biothreat agent is given a letter code (for example P for Bacillus anthracis) and the antibody corresponding to that agent is printed in the LFI strip in Braille font (spots in a pattern of 6 positions- Braille letters). The app reads the test results of the Braille format and converts it to the letter P and reports the result as B. anthracis. A prototype for a multiplex LFI able to detect ricin, SEB, and botulinum toxin was developed and evaluated for sensitivity, specificity, and detection of multiple toxins at once. After preliminary testing, ~2,000 LFIs were made for customer evaluation. Data from additional ongoing work and development of the software and reader will be presented.

9:30 Remote and Automated Biological Threat Detection with the BioACER Device

Vishaka Santosh, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, CCDC Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground

The BioACER (Biological Automated Collector/Detector for Expeditionary Reconnaissance) device is being developed for automated sample collection, preparation, identification, and reporting of biological aerosols. This unmanned device will allow for low cost, rapid, and accurate identification of biological threats, while eliminating risk of exposure to operators.

10:00 ROCSAFE: A UAV-Based Lab-on-a-Chip System for Remote Pathogen Detection

Claudia Gartner, CEO, microfluidic ChipShop GmbH

We present a microfluidic lab-on-chip system which has been integrated into an unmanned aerial vehicle and which can perform remote sampling and analysis of pathogens. The restrictions on size and weight on these platforms together with the need for a rugged system layout makes lab-on-a-chip technologies the prime candidates to be implemented on such a drone platform.

10:30 Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall with Poster Viewing

11:15 Mercury Lab - Bringing the Lab to the Sample

Joseph Russell, PhD, Senior Scientist, Global Health Surveillance & Diagnostics, MRIGlobal

MRIGlobal has developed a purpose-built platform that provides all the necessary operational equipment for genomics-based biosurveillance in a human-centered laboratory-workbench design such that rapid, reproducible deployment of advanced genomic technologies to field-forward locations is no longer strategically unfeasible. This mobile laboratory, Mercury Lab, is a first-of-its-kind product that was built to lower the barrier-to-entry of modern molecular hardware where it is needed most.

11:45 pm Integration of a Comprehensive Sample Preparation Process and PCR in a Single Low-Cost Disposable

Michael Connolly, President, Integrated Nano-Technologies, Inc.

INT has been developing a fully automated PCR-based identification system.  The system utilizes a novel fluidic cartridge to incorporate comprehensive sample extraction and nucleic acid purification capability.  Sample disruption is carried out using a guanidine hydrochloride buffer and ultrasonication.  Nucleic acids are purified using a combination of magnetic separation/concentration and a desalting column.  PCR is carried out in the cartridge and detection of amplicons is completed using an electrical sensor array.  The system incorporates positive and negative controls and utilizes a nested detection process to minimize false positives and false negatives. Performance data from the system will be presented. 

12:15 Close of Biothreat and Pathogen Detection

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