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New technology quickly detects viruses and bacteria


Narrator:       This is Science Today.  A new device that can detect and classify viruses and bacteria within 24 hours has been developed by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Tom Slezak, who leads the lab's bioinformatics group, says their Microbial Detection Array uses DNA probes to detect the major genetic components of any viruses or bacteria in any sample.

Slezak:          There's over 2,200 different viruses and nearly 1,000 different bacteria that have been sequenced so far. The data is available in the public databases. We perform bioinformatics analyses on these data and we find the regions of each of those genomes that are most unique. We picked about 380,000 of these different regions and had them printed onto this glass slide. Now when we are presented with an unknown sample, and it could be environmental, it could be clinical, it could be a product; we can quickly detect which bacteria and viruses appear to be present.

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