Washington, DC - 10 November 2004 - AOAC INTERNATIONAL, and its subsidiary AOAC Research Institute, announced today the approval of two biodefense methods for the detection of Bacillus anthracis (commonly known as anthrax). One method, commonly referred to as MIDI, is for the confirmatory identification of pure cultures of B. anthracis. The second method, a hand-held assay (HHA), is intended for the presumptive detection of B. anthracis spores. Soon, scientists will begin field-testing to confirm the effectiveness of the approved HHA method for use by "first responders," such as trained HazMat technicians, who may be called upon to respond to an emergency situation.
The comprehensive initiative conducted by AOAC INTERNATIONAL (formerly the Association of Official Analytical Chemists) and funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Defense began in June 2003. Its purpose was to identify reliable analytical methods to enable security, defense, and other federal agencies to make science-based decisions in the event of biological attacks. Additionally, first responders, public health agencies, defense, and security needed validated field-usable methods for detecting agents.
"AOAC has taken the lead in the evaluation and validation of detection methods for biological and chemical threat agents," said James Bradford, PhD, the executive director of AOAC INTERNATIONAL.
This DHS-sponsored project has established an infrastructure to support the development of standards and evaluation of biological and/or chemical threat agent detectors. AOAC INTERNATIONAL and DHS are working jointly to determine which detectors and methods for other chemical and biological agents should be evaluated next.
"The cooperation of many federal agencies, the biodetector industry, the academic and the first responder communities -- all working in concert with AOAC -- was critical in executing this project," said Dr. Bradford.
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