Turns out good things really do come in small packages. Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently unveiled a three-inch device that can detect up to 3,000 different types of viruses and bacteria in just 24 hours. The bio-detector, dubbed the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA), could have huge implications for biological and chemical attacks, food and pharmaceutical safety and diagnosing medical problems.
LLMDA is just a three-inch-long, one-inch-wide glass slide. But on top of that tiny, glass slide sit 388,000 probes that seek out more than 2,000 types of bacteria and 900 types of viruses. Scientists sequenced each type of virus and bacteria, then developed dozens of probes to identify each sequence. LLMDA boasts significant benefits over similar bio-detectors, which can only identify about 50 pathogens at one time.
And while LLMDA’s stats are seriously impressive, the device is useful in a variety of settings. For one, researchers could use LLMDA after a biological or chemical attack to identify what agents have been released. And in more everyday applications, LLMDA can be used to ensure food, drug and vaccine safety. The device can also come in handy for detecting medical problems.
The current iteration of LLMDA is certainly innovative, but it’s nothing compared to the version scientists are working on now. The new LLMDA will feature 2.1 million probes that can scan for 5,700 types of viruses and thousands of types of bacteria as well as fungi and protozoa.
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