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Immunoassays for Identification of Biological Agents in Sample Unknowns: NATO SlBCA Exercise VI

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Technical memo

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In March 2005, the NATO Panel VII Subgroup on Sampling and Identification of Biological and Chemical Agents SIBCA conducted the sixth international training exercise on identification of biological agents. Fifteen biological sample unknowns, diluted in PBS, were sent to each laboratory and participants were advised that biological agents could consist of varying concentrations of any of the following three gamma-irradiated organisms Bacillus anthracis, Yersinia pestis, or vaccinia virus. The object of the exercise was to assess each nations current capabilities in assay sensitivity for these agents. An immunological-based technology, the enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay ELISA, was used at DRDC Suffield for screening of sample unknowns. Antigen capture ELISAs for each of the three possible biological agents were used to screen the samples. In addition, a fluorescent hand-held assay, the Rapid Analyte Measurement Platform RAMPtrademark, manufactured by Response Biomedical Corp., was used to analyze the samples for the presence of Bacillus anthracis and vaccinia virus. Five biological agent unknowns were identified by ELISA in the SIBCA samples, three samples containing B. anthracis and two samples containing Y. pestis. Two biological agent unknowns were identified by RAMP in the SIBCA samples, both containing B. anthracis. No agents were identified in 11 of the SIBCA sample unknowns. A comparison of the immunoassay results with the identity of organisms in SIBCA sample unknowns, as revealed by Dugway Proving Ground following the exercise, indicated confirmed identification of five agents and the sample blank, and 12 false negative identifications.

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  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare

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