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Clin Microbiol Rev. 2005 Oct;18(4):583-607.

Current and developing technologies for monitoring agents of bioterrorism and biowarfare.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Center for Biological Defense, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620-5200, USA.


Recent events have made public health officials acutely aware of the importance of rapidly and accurately detecting acts of bioterrorism. Because bioterrorism is difficult to predict or prevent, reliable platforms to rapidly detect and identify biothreat agents are important to minimize the spread of these agents and to protect the public health. These platforms must not only be sensitive and specific, but must also be able to accurately detect a variety of pathogens, including modified or previously uncharacterized agents, directly from complex sample matrices. Various commercial tests utilizing biochemical, immunological, nucleic acid, and bioluminescence procedures are currently available to identify biological threat agents. Newer tests have also been developed to identify such agents using aptamers, biochips, evanescent wave biosensors, cantilevers, living cells, and other innovative technologies. This review describes these current and developing technologies and considers challenges to rapid, accurate detection of biothreat agents. Although there is no ideal platform, many of these technologies have proved invaluable for the detection and identification of biothreat agents.

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