NASA SBIR 2002 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02-II S4.03-9093 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 022906 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Detection and Reduction of Biological Contamination on Flight Hardware and in Return-Sample Handling
PROPOSAL TITLE: Integrated Device to Sample and Identify Surface Microorganisms

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN: (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
Lynntech, Inc.
7610 Eastmark Drive
College Station , TX   77840 - 4024
(979 ) 639 - 0017

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER: (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/ZIP, Phone)
Adrian Denvir
7607 Eastmark Drive
College Station , TX   77840 - 4027
(979 ) 693 - 0017

It is well known that terrestrial microorganisms can thrive in a microgravity environment. There is a significant risk of transporting opportunistic pathogenic microorganisms from Earth to extraterrestrial environments, as well as the possibility of unfamiliar biocontaminants entering Earth?s atmosphere via flight hardware. Because these scenarios could pose significant health threats, reliable sampling and detection methods must be developed. Currently, there are no automated techniques for sampling spacecraft surfaces for microorganisms and providing real-time analysis for contamination, despite the desperate need for such a device. To overcome obstacles associated with conventional sampling and time-consuming detection methods, Lynntech has developed a unique vacuum surface sampling device which can be used in conjunction with a state of the art electrochemical based gene expression micro-detection unit. In the Phase I research, Lynntech successfully designed and fabricated the sampling unit, demonstrating its sampling capability on several surfaces. In addition, the microbiological electronic detection unit, including a cell lysing system and miniature thermal cycler, were successfully designed, built, and tested as individual benchtop components. The Phase II research will focus on the development and delivery of breadboard hardware to NASA for engineering and microbial evaluation.

In order to prevent the transfer of microorganisms to and from extraterrestrial environments, flight hardware must be thoroughly examined for the presence of microbial contamination. The proposed devices will provide NASA with an invaluable tool for the sampling and detection of microorganisms on a variety of surfaces on spacecraft, flight hardware, and the space station. The sampling device may be used alone or in conjunction with a novel microbial detector, providing NASA with the convenience and flexibility to perform a variety of different analysis techniques on the same sample. Providing NASA personnel with a non-labor intensive method for this type of microbial sampling and detection could save many man hours of labor. Potentially many more harmful microbiological contaminants could be detected and subsequently eliminated by using these types of devices, which streamline the sampling and detection process. The devices are not only more user friendly than conventional techniques, but can also produce results much faster.

The microbiological autosampling device and the detector unit would both find use in many military and civilian applications. Biological warfare agents pose a significant threat to both US military forces and civilian populations worldwide. Convenient sampling methods are desperately needed that can efficiently sample surfaces such as carpet, ceiling tile, furniture, and drapes. The proposed sampling device would overcome many of the technical hurdles faced when sampling these surfaces. In addition, when paired with the detection unit, both units could provide near real-time analysis and detection of biological warfare agents, potentially saving many lives. Other uses include sampling of harmful pathogens in the food production and processing industries, point-of-care medical facilities, medical and dental offices, and manufacturing facilities that require strict adherence to microbial contamination standards, such as those found in the pharmaceutical industry. An automated sampling and detection system providing real time analysis of contamination or harmful pathogens could save industries millions of dollars in recalls each year.

Form Printed on 10-03-03 11:34