LFA Technology Helps Sniff Out Anthrax

Organization: Sandia National Laboratories (U.S. Dept. of Energy), University of New Mexico
Co-Developer(s): Melissa Finley, Principal Developer
Year: 2014

2014 R&D 100 Winner Anthrax poses a significant threat to national security as demonstrated by terrorist attacks targeting the U.S. Postal Service and the Hart Senate Office Building. The organism that causes anthrax infection, Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis), is ubiquitous worldwide.

Anthrax outbreaks occur naturally in livestock. From 2005 through 2012, over 3,000 outbreaks were reported. In resource-limited regions, suspicious samples are collected, grown in a lab and analyzed by cell biology techniques. Positive specimens are often stored, not destroyed. This practice increases repositories of B. anthracis, escalating the risk that it can be stolen for nefarious purposes. This practice also leads trained laboratory personnel to produce pure B. anthracis, a knowledge of which could be used for terrorism.

To mitigate these risks, Sandia National Laboratories developed a credit-card sized device based on the lateral flow assay (LFA) for detection of B. anthracis in ultra-low resource environments: BaDx (Bacillus anthracis diagnostics). BaDx is a low-cost, disposable device that requires no power, instrumentation or equipment to operate, and no refrigeration to maintain efficacy. It requires little training to operate, detecting B. anthracis in the field with an accuracy that rivals laboratory analysis. Further, the device “self-destructs” by sterilizing all contents upon assay completion. This greatly improves safety for the operator, while preventing the dangerous bacteria from being recovered.

Technology Anthrax detection device

DevelopersSandia National Laboratories

Development Team

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Sandia National Laboratories' BaDx development team. Back row (l-r): Julie Lovchik, Jason Harper, Thayne Edwards, Jaclyn Murton and Amanda Carroll-Portillo. Front row (l-r): Bryan Carson, George Bachand and Melissa Finley.














The BaDx (Bacillus anthracis diagnostics) Development Team from Sandia National Laboratories Melissa Finley, Principal DeveloperWilliam ArndtGeorge D. BachandBryan CarsonAmanda Carroll-PortilloThayne EdwardsJason HarperJulie Ann Lovchik, University of New MexicoJaclyn K. Murton J. Bryce Ricken