Benjamin J. Hindson, Anthony J. Makarewicz, Ujwal S. Setlur, Bruce D. Henderer, Mary T. McBride, John M. Dzenitis∗
We have developed and tested a fully autonomous pathogen detection system (APDS) capable of continuously monitoring the environment for airborne biological threat agents. The system was developed to provide early warning to civilians in the event of a bioterrorism incident and can be used at high profile events for short-term, intensive monitoring or in major public buildings or transportation nodes for long- term monitoring. The APDS is completely automated, offering continuous aerosol sampling, in-line sample preparation fluidics, multiplexed detection and identification immunoassays, and nucleic acid-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification and detection. Highly multiplexed antibody-based and duplex nucleic acid-based assays are combined to reduce false positives to a very low level, lower reagent costs, and significantly expand the detection capabilities of this biosensor. This article provides an overview of the current design and operation of the APDS. Certain sub-components of the ADPS are described in detail, including the aerosol collector, the automated sample preparation module that performs multiplexed immunoassays with confirmatory PCR, and the data monitoring and communications system. Data obtained from an APDS that operated continuously for 7 days in a major U.S. transportation hub is reported.