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Improvements to Biosurveillance and Detection Methods

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is conducting market research to determine the availability of emerging technologies that can improve the detection and characterization of biological threat agent signatures.

Highlighted areas of interest include:

  • Improvement in the activity, stability and capabilities of amplification enzymes and polymerases used in the analysis of nucleic acids derived from select and non-select agents.
  • Development of novel primer and probe chemistries, methods to reduce or defeat primer-dimer formation, provide methods and reagents (fluor and quencher dyes) to increase the sensitivity and spectral range of detection.
  • Development of new and novel filter materials for the recovery of nucleic acid signatures and the use of (RNA and DNA) nuclease inhibitors in the filters to increase stability of signature nucleic acids, and subsequently the rates of recovery from environmental filters of various compositions.
  • Development of novel signature extraction chemistries to allow for the recovery and subsequent analysis of intact, low concentration, agent genomic nucleic acids and proteins from environmental filters of various compositions.
  • Inhibitors for use in transport “buffers” to allow for the immediate transport and indefinite storage of environmental filters to prevent the degradation of nucleic acid and protein signatures.
  • Development of techniques, methods, stabilizers, preservatives, to allow for the recovery and culture of “live” or “viable” biological materials and organisms, and viruses from environmental collectors.
  • Development of technologies that allow recovery of live bacterial or viral agents from the air such that the sample can be analyzed for specific nucleic acid content (PCR or sequencing) as well as follow on growth of the organism.
  • Novel technologies which allow the inspection of sealed systems (cargo containers, boxes, bottles, etc.) in a non-intrusive way that can be used in normal screening of enclosed containers for biological and/or chemical weapons.

Responses to this RFI will assist DHS in understanding the number and nature of potentially available solutions. Current demonstrated ability to meet all desired capabilities is not necessary. Respondents may choose one or more areas to submit a response.

The effort is overseen by DHS’ Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate Chemical and Biological Defense Division (CBD). Additional details on are available via Solicitation Number: HSHQDC-17-RFI-01. The white paper submission deadline is December 31, 2016.

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