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D. The Development of an Autonomous Pathogen Detector System

Narrator: This is Science Today. In an effort to counter biological and chemical terrorism, scientists have been developing a system called the Autonomous Pathogen Detector System, or APDS. Pat Fitch, manager of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Chemical and Biological National Security Program, says APDS is a podium-sized detector deployed in places like airports and subways to automatically collect and process data from the environment.

Fitch: The first test it does is an antibody style test, very much like a pregnancy test. These are done in sandwich format, which means there's two sides of the pathogen are both matched and if you get the match, then the probability of the pathogen there is very high. And if we get a positive with the antibody test, the other feature of this system is it then shuttles a little bit of that sample down and we do a DNA-based test, as well as a nucleic acid test.

Narrator: Fitch says thousands of samples have been taken in the field to establish false alarm rates and so far, there have been none. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.