Feeds

UK gov awards £1m to bio-terror detector firm

Nanotech firm develops synthetic antibodies

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Infographic

The government has handed £1m in grants and awards to a nanotech company that has developed a new way of detecting a bioterror attack. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) both contributed to the funding package.

The company concerned, Nanosight, is cagey about explaining its technology because its patents are all still under review. What it will say is that it has developed a way of replicating viral antibodies using non-biological means, specifically "computer and microelectronics technology".

When exposed to an antigen, that is a virus or a bacterium, the body produces antibodies. These are proteins that are able to combine with and neutralise the antigen. They are a very specific match to the virus concerned, much as a key is a match to a particular lock. When they encounter the antigen, they 'lock' into it, stopping it from interacting with anything else.

Traditionally, antibodies can be grown in a lab. A lab animal is infected with a disease. Its immune system produces the antibody which is then grown in a petri dish. However, as CEO John Knowles explains, growing antibodies is a difficult process, and once grown, the antibodies don't live very long. He says his company's technique will save researchers time and money, and the results will be longer lasting.

The immediate goal is to develop the technology into a portable detector that could be used in the field. The company has partnered with Smith Detection in this endeavour, "to help protect our IP", Knowles explains. In the very long term, he sees the technology being deployed across cities in passive sensors that would sound the alarm if they detected a bio-agent: "That could be one way of using the technology, but it is a long way off," he said.

The company has made full disclosure to the DTI, in confidence, and that the work has been subject to peer review. The technology also has applications in the pharmaceutical business, Knowles says. ®

Related stories

Nanotech aids green hydrogen production
Scientists call for nanotech caution
Prince Charles gives forth on nanotech
US army dips into nanotech research

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.