21/09/2004

Nano-tech company to develop bio-warfare warning system

A UK company has received a £1 million funding package to develop the "best early warning indicator" of biological attack.

Salisbury-based NanoSight has been awarded the cash slew to make a "revolutionary" portable detector containing artificial antibodies created through computer and microelectronics technology.

Current methods of detecting biological agents, whether to give rapid warning of a biological attack, or in the detection of disease before symptoms appear, currently use human and animal cells and involve taking samples to a lab for analysis.

According to the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), this is a slow, painstaking process that could be streamlined thanks to Nanosight's recent research breakthrough which can produce instant results without any of the problems associated with handling and storing biological samples.

The government said that the nano-technique could be applied across the whole spectrum of biotechnology, including "dramatically speeding up drug development, reducing costs for pharmaceutical companies, and also leading to a new generation of high resolution sensors with applications from water safety to homeland security".

Mark White, NESTA Invention and Innovation Director, said: "Nanotechnology has sparked a lot of controversy in the media lately. However, we are delighted to be investing in this groundbreaking idea which applies the technology to areas that could have huge social benefits, such as defence against the ever-growing threat of bio-terrorism."

Today's funding package includes awards from NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) and DTI.

(gmcg/mb)

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