Anthrax is lethal primarily when exposure to an attack goes unnoticed until flu-like symptoms appear. Prompt treatment before the onset of symptoms (within 2 days of infection) ensures an excellent chance of survival.

Universal Detection Technology’s (UDT) device, co-developed with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), essentially acts as a “Bacteria Spores Monitor” (BSM-2000). This device offers businesses, municipalities, and organisations throughout the world an affordable means to better prepare themselves with the information and equipment needed to address deadly bioterrorism threats.

The device continuously monitors the air for bacteria spores such as anthrax and is used as a frontline alert to set off evacuation and containment procedures.


In general the principle of operation of the BSM-200 consists of 1) monitoring the air for changes in bacteria spore concentration, and 2) when a change in bacteria spore concentration is greater than natural variations, then the machine triggers the alarm and therefore more extensive testing shall take place. A great advantage of using BSM-2000 as a frontline monitor, in addition to substantial cost savings, is that it detects all bacteria spores, which is a more general detection target than the antigen or the DNA targets of species-specific detection. These antigen or DNA detection methods can be defeated with genetically modified organisms.


The device’s operation is based on dipicolinic acid (DPA) triggered terbium (Tb) luminescence, which is closely related to a colorimetric assay first developed in 1958. The core of bacterial spores contains up 1 molar of DPA, which will be released into bulk solution by heating the sample, depositing it o a tape within the device. Tb is then deposited on the tape where the released DPA binds the Tb ions with high affinity and triggers intense green luminescence under UV excitation. The luminescence intensity can then be correlated to the DPA concentration and subsequently to bacteria spore concentration. The luminescence is measured by a life-time-gated luminescence spectrometer situated inside the BSM-2000 to enable unattended, online monitoring of aerosolized bacteria spores.

The system has a low susceptibility to false positives due to the natural fluctuations in bacteria spore concentrations, because these fluctuations occur in a concentration regime many orders of magnitude lower than those present during an anthrax attack.


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