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Los Alamos Bovine Tuberculosis Work Featured in New Mexico Stockman Magazine

The tuberculosis work of researchers from Biosensor team at Los Alamos is featured in the June issue of the New Mexico Stockman magazineThe tuberculosis work of researchers from Biosensor team at Los Alamos is featured in the June issue of the New Mexico Stockman magazine. The New Mexico Stockman is an agricultural publication that goes mainly to ranchers in New Mexico and Arizona.  The article describes a quick and accurate means of diagnosing bovine tuberculosis(TB) that is under development by the Biosensor team. TB is a serious, chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium. It usually affects the respiratory system and is capable of infecting most mammals. The risk of humans contracting bovine TB is low (human TB is caused by a different strain of the bacteria), but positive cases can affect consumer confidence in milk and beef products as well as the health of the heard.

Currently, the most common method for diagnosis of TB uses a skin injection test that takes days and which must be followed up by a lab culture, making testing expensive and time consuming. The test that the Biosensor team is attempting to develop takes about fifteen minutes and could be performed in the field. Since it is both fast and easy, it can be widely used, allowing for early detection that can in turn prevent the spread of the disease.

The Los Alamos Biosensor team uses planar optical waveguides for the sensitive, specific, and rapid detection of biological agents. They develop methods to detect national security threats (anthrax, botulism) as well as medically important organisms and conditions (influenza, breast cancer, tuberculosis). They hope to have the feasibility testing for bovine TB diagnosis completed by the end of the year.

This project is an extension of already ongoing work on human tuberculosis (Los Alamos Laboratory Directed Research and Development funded). The team consists of Basil Swanson, Harshini Mukundan (Principal investigator), Aaron Anderson, Kevin Grace, Dominique Price, Matthew R. Scholfield, Rama Sakamuri and Sandeep Kumar (post-docs). Funding for the bovine TB development comes from the New Mexico Small Business Association (Program Manager, Lisa Henne). Dr. Ray Waters at the USDA is an external collaborator on the project.

Read the complete article on pages 25 and 26
Biosensor Team web site

July 2010

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