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A New Kind of Detector for Viruses and Pathogens


Narrator:        This is Science Today. A research advance that will lead to more rapid detection of viruses and other pathogens, has been developed by a collaborative team of researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California, Davis. Reg Beer, a research scientist at the Livermore Lab, says their detector can analyze droplets in the picaliter scale.

Beer:               To put some perspective on that, there's about ten billion of them in this cup of water and those droplets are so small that it can hold, at most, one copy of the pathogen - these deadly organisms, either viruens, if it's a virus or DNA.

Narrator:        The researchers then isolate individual copies and droplets and then perform an amplification detection on them.

Beer:               And the reason we want them isolated is because that way DNA from other organisms , other - maybe harmless bacteria - viruses, plant viruses, things that are always in the system, don't interfere with the detection we're trying to make and that allows a very fast detection because we don't get swamped by stuff that's in high background.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.