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Bio-Detector Scans For 3,000 Viruses and Bacteria

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the can't-we-send-it-to-mars-and-settle-this? dept.

Biotech 103

separsons writes "Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently unveiled a three-inch-long bio-detector than can scan for 3,000 different types of viruses and bacteria in just 24 hours. The device, dubbed the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA), boasts significant advantages over traditional bio-detectors, which can only identify a maximum of 50 pathogens. The three-inch-long glass slide is packed with 388,000 probes that can detect more than 2,000 viruses and 900 bacteria. The device may have huge implications in identifying agents released during biological and chemical attacks. Plus, in more everyday uses, LLMDA can ensure food, drug and vaccine safety and help diagnose medical problems. Scientists' next version of LLMDA is even more impressive: A new bio-detector will be lined with 2.1 million probes that can scan for 5,700 viruses and thousands of bacteria as well as fungi and protozoa."

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2,000 viruses? (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148526)

Is there a Windows version?

Re:2,000 viruses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148542)

No no. You got the question wrong.

Re:2,000 viruses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148850)

Does it run on Linux?

Re:2,000 viruses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148998)

This is the Linux version.

Re:2,000 viruses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148846)

Is there a Windows version?

This is the Windows version.

Re:2,000 viruses? (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149190)

I'm with ya bud; I was gonna ask the same thing. But see, there's not 2,000 or 3,000 viruses out there, waiting to get in...there are in excess of 2,000,000 the last I looked.

This is one VERY cool advancement. I'd just like to see Windows get the same kinda advancement for a change. Everyone I know's stuck in that circus...

2,900 == 3000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148552)

2,000 Viruses + 900 Bacteria != 3,000 Viruses and Bacteria

Re:2,900 == 3000? (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148574)

Close enough for government work.

Re:2,900 == 3000? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148608)

I think you missed a couple words: ``can detect more than 2,000 viruses and 900 bacteria.''

Re:2,900 == 3000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32149022)

3000 V + 3000 B == 3000 VB

Typo in summary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148568)

Typo in summary. Than should be that.

Dammit, Jim... (1)

ClubStew (113954) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148578)

...I'm a doctor, not a patient! - Dr. McCoy when asked to wave the tricorder medical scanner for 24 hours waiting for a diagnosis.

Re:Dammit, Jim... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150018)

i think this still needs a blood sample, tho hopefully much less so then current ways of doing things.

Does that mean ... (1)

geantvert (996616) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148580)

... the end of Dr House?

 

Re:Does that mean ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32152436)

I hope so. Too often he only pulls out the right solution when his patients are almost dead.

What biological and chemical attacks? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148630)

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Huge implications (4, Insightful)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148632)

The device may have huge implications in identifying agents released during biological and chemical attacks
Yes, don't we all just hate those attacks we're suffering all the time. Finally the LLNL is spending money where it's really needed.

Re:Huge implications (2, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148646)

The device may have huge implications in identifying Agents who release biological and chemical attacks

Fixed that for them. AFAICT, the only biological attacks in the USA have been made by Federal employees.

Re:Huge implications (2, Informative)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149172)

Fixed that for them. AFAICT, the only biological attacks in the USA have been made by Federal employees.

Then what you know is wrong. Another who has worked in the same lab and is no longer restricted by his contract has come forward and stated is would be impossible for the Anthrax to have been made there. Furthermore, the DNA of the Anthrax was proved to not have come from that facility; though likely to be very closely related. According to the co-worker, it would have taken him years and the majority of the lab to have manufactured that much Anthrax in that tiny lab. As such, it is literally impossible for him to have created it.

As a result of the wrongful accusations, he committed suicide and ignorance is working hard to continue those wrongful accusations. Literally, the only thing those accusations indicate is that the FBI is a bunch of incompetence looking to get the heat off of themselves. And the only thing worse then their incompetence is those who would ignorantly repeat those accusations.

If you're not talking about the Anthrax cases, then I have no idea what you're talking about. If this is the case, accordingly, please educated me while I'm shutt'n the F up. Otherwise, stop repeating completely false accusations.

Re:Huge implications (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150046)

AFAICT, the only biological attacks in the USA have been made by Federal employees.

Then what you know is wrong. Another who has worked in the same lab and is no longer restricted by his contract has come forward and stated is would be impossible for the Anthrax to have been made there. Furthermore, the DNA of the Anthrax was proved to not have come from that facility; though likely to be very closely related.

You're talking about Bruce Ivins and the 2001 Anthrax attacks, of course. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_anthrax_attack [wikipedia.org] Because Ivins killed himself, we'll never know for sure whether he was responsible. His friend Harry Heine said Ivins was innocent http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/us/23anthrax.html [nytimes.com] and Heine knows more about the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases than I do, but how do you know he's right? Nobody knows.

One thing that everybody agrees on is that the anthrax used in the attacks came from the USMRIID. In other words, it came from U.S. biological weapons research. If Ivins wasn't responsible, then another federal employee was, because federal employees developed and distributed the Ames strain. So the parent is right.

Bottom line: The U.S. military created biological weapons, with the excuse that they had to create them to figure out how to defend us from them. A lot of microbiologists said that was BS and we shouldn't do it, because once you develop the microbes, or even the technology, the chances are too high that it's going to escape -- and they were right.

So we've demonstrated to the world that it's possible to create weaponized anthrax (a microbe that's found throughout the world, including Iran), which could bring the mail system (and the country) to a halt and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of Americans. And we've shown them how to do it. Now any postgrad microbiologist can make weaponized anthrax.

Fortunately anthrax is just one more disease that people have been getting for thousands of years. Livestock farmers in Iran and Iraq still get it. We've survived plagues before. We'll survive again (most of us). But if the U.S. government hadn't done the research, it wouldn't be a problem.

Re:Huge implications (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32151074)

Fortunately anthrax is just one more disease that people have been getting for thousands of years. Livestock farmers in Iran and Iraq still get it. We've survived plagues before. We'll survive again (most of us). But if the U.S. government hadn't done the research, it wouldn't be a problem.

The USSR was also doing that research. And as you point out, anyone else can too.

Re:Huge implications (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 4 years ago | (#32151972)

To clarify what I'm saying:

Nobody knew for sure that it was possible to weaponize anthrax until we had done it. Now we've shown that it's possible, and we've shown how to do it.

Terrorists can collect anthrax from dead cows (or from humans, who are frequently treated for anthrax infections in the middle east). But they didn't have a way of disseminating it against an enemy.

Now, as a result of the USMRIID's biological warfare program, terrorists know that it's possible to convert anthrax into an easily-inhalable form that can be distributed quickly and widely through the postal system. There's no easy way to defend against that. If a terrorist did that, we'd just have to take the hit.

The rogue U.S. scientist (whoever he was) understood that and taught it to the world.

The Soviets tried it, had their own anthrax outbreak, and their conclusion was (according to their defector scientists who testified before Congress) that germ warfare was too dangerous, a "loose cannon" that's going to come back and attack you.

Richard Nixon also decided that biological warfare was too dangerous and ended the U.S. programs. Subsequent presidents reversed his policy. Nixon was right.

Working with smallpox is risky enough (although smallpox can teach us important lessons about virulence).

But deliberately creating more virulent microorganisms is stupid and dangerous, as scientists like Matthew Meselson warned.

We've handed the terrorists a good weapon to use against us.

Heckuva job.

Re:Huge implications (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32153614)

We've handed the terrorists a good weapon to use against us.

That's our modus operandi.

Or, for those who don't know Latin, that's how we roll.

Re:Huge implications (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32153710)

Nobody knew for sure that it was possible to weaponize anthrax until we had done it. Now we've shown that it's possible, and we've shown how to do it.

Wrong. The USSR had weaponized Anthrax long before the US did. And to be absolutely clear, creating a quantity of anthrax does not mean its been weaponized. There is a HUGE difference. The mailing of anthrax absolutely is NOT weaponization.

You need to keep in mind, the bulk of our bio-research ("germ warfare") was as a directly response to the USSR's massive program (largest in the world). They invested heavily because they realized early on they could never keep nuclear pace. So in response to the USSR's bio-weaponization programs, the US started developing our own - but on a much smaller scale.

Re:Huge implications (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32153658)

but how do you know he's right? Nobody knows.

Because he knows what he's talking about and not one person has stepped forward to contradict his statement. And from what I've read, long before he's stepped forward, there had always been some question as to whether or not that lab could have even produced the quantity of Anthrax released. Based on his statements, it appears the FBI knew full well the lab couldn't have ever created that much Anthrax without the entire lab being in on it.

One thing that everybody agrees on is that the anthrax used in the attacks came from the USMRIID.

Sorry, no body agrees with that. Its as I said. While it likely did not come directly from that lab, it likely did come indirectly from that lab. Thusly, they are closely related - exactly as I said. That's a BIG difference. If you play the six-degrees game, its like saying everyone is Kevin Bacon. Whereas in this case, the Anthrax is not Keven, it is someone very close to him. Again, that's a big difference. Of course, if we're the press and want to make it sound like an innocent man is guilty, we lie and say it came from that lab. After all, its close enough to the truth, the ignorant masses won't know the difference.

So we've demonstrated to the world that it's possible to create weaponized anthrax

Sorry, that's far from weaponization. Ineffectively spreading Anthrax is a huge difference from effective weaponization. Weaponization of Anthrax is actually very difficult. This case actually changed nothing.

Now any postgrad microbiologist can make weaponized anthrax.

No they can't. Effective weaponization is both very expensive and difficult. Mailing Anthrax is anything but weaponization.

But if the U.S. government hadn't done the research, it wouldn't be a problem.

This is, of course, wholesale incorrect. Such thinks could have been done, easily, if the government hadn't done it. Simple fact is, the USSR had some of the largest and highest number of bio labs in the world. Furthermore, samples from this specific lab were were (are?) readily available for anyone doing research. Samples are available for any number of other labs. In some cases, before this happened, it was discovered samples from labs all across the world have been sent to non-research orientated groups. To say obtaining Anthrax and other bio-samples is/was easy, all across the world, is an understatement.

Re:Huge implications (2, Informative)

PNutts (199112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149264)

AFAICT, the only biological attacks in the USA have been made by Federal employees.

Google is a good substitute if you can't actually go outside: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_go1613/is_2_16/ai_n29353152/ [findarticles.com] Unfortunately, when looking at an overrated post there is no good substitute for no mod points.

Re:Huge implications (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32153496)

There's a very good substitution for no mod points; Refuting the spurious point with facts and logic, hopefully not only educating the OP who is misinformed, but increasing the knowledge of those who read your reply to the over-rated comment.

In fact, I wish people would refute the points using facts and logic than modding the incorrect information down. Then again, I wish everybody would vote, politicians weren't corrupt and power-hungry, and that life saving medications were given free of charge to those who would die without them, but I'm just picky like that.

Re:Huge implications (4, Insightful)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148738)

It's just how you sell that sort of thing in today's climate. National security is much more interesting than public health, for some reason.

Re:Huge implications (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149094)

Gah.... You're right, and it's sad.

Still, I'll note that while I have some training in responding to biological, as well as chemical and radiological attacks, my first thought was the potential medical benefits of this test.

Antibiotics are getting tougher, we even have a number of anti-virals. They're all targeted, and you don't want to give somebody them if you don't have to. When it comes to bacteria, there's whole listings of phages - but they each target like 1 bacterial strain.

But when it comes to a bacterial infection, speed of treatment is a big deal - 24 hours can make a huge difference. Don't forget the time cost of getting the appropriate phage/anti-viral. I don't imagine that most pharmacies would want to stock 5k or so phages. So it'd be next day fed-ex'd or something. 48 hours until treatment starts, though I imagine 'common' strains would have hospitals/pharmacies/doctors having the appropriate strain on hand.

Damn our irrationality and tribalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32151606)

I know I've tied myself in a knot trying to rationalize my simultaneous dismissal of the anti-terror spasms (which I consider expressions of neofascism) and the anti-vaccination crowd (whom I consider anti-intellectual and anti-scientific).

Why is it that I side with the rights of the many (not to get diseases we can prevent through herd immunity) and the rights of the individual (not to lose our dignity and free will to a bunch of security theater)? Why is it that some others are my polar opposite: they accept intrusive policing (because they think they have nothing to hide) while they also clamor against things like public health or even environmental protection (because they think their common sense trumps any scientific inquiry)?

My best guess is that we're often only superficially rational, and base our assessment of these issues on whether we identify with stereotypical targets of a certain threat. I don't want to die in a plague or disaster created by my ignorant countrymen, while they don't want to die in an attack by the foreign bogeyman. I realise that this summary shows my own bias, and I cannot really prove that my assessment is more rational, though I like to think it is so.

Re:Huge implications (1)

mc moss (1163007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148778)

"LLMDA can ensure food, drug and vaccine safety and help diagnose medical problems"

That's just one of the selling points. If an attack does ever occur, this will be of tremendous help.

Re:Huge implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148790)

Finally the LLNL is spending money where it's really needed.

Yes, because the best preparation strategy is to sit around with your thumb in your ass until something bad happens.

Re:Huge implications (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148802)

Yes, don't we all just hate those attacks we're suffering all the time. Finally the LLNL is spending money where it's really needed.

It hasn't happened yet but that's never been a reason not to design safety systems to limit the damage. I do believe there's a major ecological disaster underway right now in the Gulf of Mexico teaching us this lesson right now. In a biological or chemical attack, minutes or hours matter in determining the agent(s)/pathology. Do you feel it would be money wasted if fifty thousand lives were saved because we were able to identify the agent and effect appropriate safety measures, instead of blindly groping for answers?

Eventually, a biological or chemical attack will happen -- either due to the result of human error, terrorism, or another cause: It's out there in the environment now. Sooner or later, it'll come in contact with other people, and we'll want this technology there.

Re:Huge implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32149234)

We actually have a real life example: remember the anthrax mail scare?

Now imagine a slightly more organized version of the same. N people, X letters worth of anthrax (or other scary substance), Y letters worth of a less harmless substance that plausibly looks like it's the worse one. Coordinated with basic knowledge of shipping speeds, such that the letters go over as many shipping companies and routes as possible and all arrive around the same day or two.

If it takes you four days to test a sample (maybe more, if there's so much activity at once that it causes a backlog), then everyone exposed to the substance has to start on medication RIGHT AWAY, and the all the exposed places have to be shut down until the tests are in (after which the safe ones re-open and the unsafe ones get cleaned).

If it takes 24 hours or less to test a sample? Then maybe only the X real cases get treated for it, since the Y hoax cases can be so quickly assured that they're safe. And most places that were shut down can be re-opened a day or two after they opened their letter, and post offices and shipping centers can be reopened quickly too.

The example may seem slightly contrived, but it IS based on things that already happened once. And I'm sure we all agree that it's easier to find people willing and able to mail envelopes (especially the safe ones) than people willing and able to blow themselves up.

Re:Huge implications (2, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149260)

I do believe there's a major ecological disaster underway right now in the Gulf of Mexico teaching us this lesson right now

Oil spills have happened many times before, check wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for a start. Now give me one example of an intentional biological attack that had any significant consequences.

They might as well design defenses against an attack of pink unicorns, it has never happened before, but that's not reason to ignore the danger, right?

Re:Huge implications (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#32153548)

C'mon now, you know things don't get invented or released to the public unless they can be used by the military or NASA.

MDA (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148660)

Let's just call it the Microbial Detection Array. I mean, thanks a lot Lawrence Livermore, really, but do you really want a bunch of people going around saying "lambda" because that's how they're pronouncing that crazy acronym?

Re:MDA (2, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148734)

Let's just call it the Microbial Detection Array. I mean, thanks a lot Lawrence Livermore, really, but do you really want a bunch of people going around saying "lambda" because that's how they're pronouncing that crazy acronym?

It's about funding. The next time the funding for Lawrence Livermore comes up in Congress, it helps to have someone who can say: "Ah, yes, I have heard of them. Um, they make that detector . . . which I don't really understand what it does."

That's why they need their name in the device.

Ok, Microbial Detection Array sounds good shortened to MDA . . . or better yet iMDA.

Re:MDA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32151688)

Does that mean that iMDA++ would list all of the names of the actors who portrayed the microbes inside of the sample?

Clinical Value (1)

toppavak (943659) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148672)

Sure, the number sounds impressive but it's still clinically worthless in 99.9% of situations. There are a relatively small number of infectious agents that are life-threatening, of those the likely culprit in most cases can be narrowed down to far fewer than 10 simply based on symptoms. Reimbursement is another issue with these multiplexed test since unless a doctor can demonstrate that looking for every single disease in the the test's repertoire was medically necessary, insurance companies won't fully reimburse hospitals for the cost of the test. In fact since the test is simply based on multiplexed PCR, it would be significantly cheaper and more worthwhile to be able to dynamically define the test parameters and have an instrument dispense only the primer sequences needed to test for the selected diseases. This isn't even interesting- multiplexing PCR has been done for decades, there are just no practical applications for multiplexing 1,000's of primers.

Re:Clinical Value (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148808)

From what I can see in the linked articles, it seems to be superior to classical multiplexing PCR in that it has a higher parallel detection capability. I agree, though, that this is not necessary in the vast majority of clinical situations. There still might be fringe cases where something like it could be used in a medical setting. However, I rather view it as a new, valuable research tool. Being able to quickly "population-type" a microbial environment could be very useful in a variety of fields. They just are doing the medical and bio-terror PR thing, but in truth, this looks like a shiny new tool for basic research to me.

Re:Clinical Value (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149656)

I agree, though, that this is not necessary in the vast majority of clinical situations. There still might be fringe cases where something like it could be used in a medical setting.

Right, this will be for one of those desperate cases that you read about in medical journals where they think they have an infection but they just can't identify it and empirical antibiotics aren't working. Its effectiveness will be limited by the false positives. How many commensal bacteria are there in the human body? 6,000? So the test says you've got 30 sometimes-pathogenic microbes. Then what do you do?

I rather view it as a new, valuable research tool. Being able to quickly "population-type" a microbial environment could be very useful in a variety of fields.

That could be one of the really useful applications. I'm sure the Human Microbiome Project will be examining this closely. It would be cool to have a cheap way to find out what microbes are on the human forehead and armpits.

But justifying it as a way to fight terrorism? What does that say about the rationality of science policy in America?

Re:Clinical Value (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32152474)

> It would be cool to have a cheap way to find out what microbes are on the human forehead and armpits.

Or arteries.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071120095413.htm [sciencedaily.com]

http://www.perio.org/consumer/bacteria.htm [perio.org]

With this they might be able to find other diseases which could be caused by infection and not solely "lifestyle".

Re:Clinical Value (1)

morty_vikka (1112597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150768)

Not having read TFA, I could be wrong, but it sounds like an array-based detection system..

You absolutely cannot multiplex PCRs for that many targets, so it has to be an array, right?

There may be some non-specific PCR, or other form of 'amplification' i.e. in vitro transcription, done beforehand to amplify the starting matierial (in fact, this would probably be required since array sensitivity is crap compared to PCR).

Re:Clinical Value (1)

RDW (41497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32161966)

'Not having read TFA, I could be wrong, but it sounds like an array-based detection system.'

You're spot on. There's a better article than TFA at LLNL Public Affairs:

https://publicaffairs.llnl.gov/news/news_releases/2010/NR-10-05-02.html [llnl.gov]

Looks like they're using a Nimblegen platform, at least in the original version of the array:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18478124 [nih.gov]

One application is screening human vaccines for contamination with various viruses:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20375174 [nih.gov]

I've got one (0, Redundant)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148698)

a three-inch-long bio-detector

Hey, I've got a three inch.....aw shit. Never mind.

Re:I've got one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148798)

My bio-detector alternates between three-inch-long and nine-inch-long, depending on what biosigns it reads.

388,000 probes (1)

CruelKnave (1324841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148766)

"Now strip naked and get on the probulator."

form factor (3, Funny)

electricprof (1410233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149126)

I have this fear that it's current size will inevitably lead to a portable ... err ... insertable version ...

Re: 388,000 probes (1)

CyberDragon777 (1573387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32156782)

TECHNICIAN: Next.
Joe steps up. The Technician holds up three probes connected to the diagnostic machine.
TECHNICIAN: Okay. This one goes in your mouth.
Joe tentatively opens his mouth. The technician puts it in.
TECHNICIAN: This one's for your ear.
The technician sticks a second probe in Joe's ear.
TECHNICIAN: And... This one goes in your butt.
The technician hands Joe a third probe. Joe looks at it reluctantly, hesitates a beat, then looks at the line of 20 people staring at him.
GUY IN LINE: Hurry UP ASSHOLE!!!
Joe unhappily puts the plug up his butt.
TECHNICIAN: Shit, wait a second.
The Technician pulls all three plugs out and stupidly fumbles with the identical cables.
TECHNICIAN: Okay, one goes in your... No, wait a second...
Joe tries to follow the one that was in his butt like three card monte, but it's a lost cause. The technician stops
shuffling the probes.
TECHNICIAN: Okay. This one goes in your mouth.
Joe stares in horror as the Technician brings the probe closer to his mouth. Joe hesitates.
GUY IN LINE: COME ON!!!

And the world is another step closer to Idiocracy!

No fun for doctors (3, Interesting)

hey (83763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148776)

In the olden days (now) a doctor would examine at you and see what virus you probably had then order tests. But tomorrow if they can just scan for everything there's no need for doctors. :(

Re:No fun for doctors (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148870)

In the olden days (now) a doctor would examine at you and see what virus you probably had then order tests. But tomorrow if they can just scan for everything there's no need for doctors. :(

Then who will tell you that it's a virus, that you should go home and take two aspirin, and that you should pay the $250 fee (new tech isn't cheap)?

Answer me that, smartypants. You think that Joe Public is going to take that from a nurse or a tech? No way.

Re:No fun for doctors (2, Interesting)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148920)

One step closer to Larry Niven's Autodoc.

Re:No fun for doctors (1)

DeadboltX (751907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149368)

It takes out a mundane part of a doctors day to day practice. Doctors are still needed to administer treatment once the diagnosis is found, and to make sure that the treatment is working and not causing any adverse side effects.

Re:No fun for doctors (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149606)

I really despise this line of thinking. I deal with it on a daily basis where people will say, "If we use this awesome new technology that can HELP people, we're ALL GOING TO BE OUT OF JOBS@!!!!11111!"

What many people don't realize is that, for each job a technology MIGHT take away, others are created. For example, computers has made the need for personal secretaries to be much less necessary. However, computers have also created millions of more jobs (programmers, hardware designers/builders, computer repair, sales, website designers, etc). Okay, so, yeah, secretaries are bummed out. In addition, usually a technology doesn't completely eradicate a position, but changes it. A secretary now-a-days can run an entire organization and is not "personal" anymore - but he or she should have a good, working knowledge of how to effectively move through a computer system.

With respect to your comment - alright, maybe doctors wouldn't be needed to diagnose illnesses. There is so much more for them to do - research, surgical doctors, radiologists, etc, etc. In addition, this new technology may create an entirely new market for those doctors to thrive in. All the while, this new technology is advancing our healthcare and improving the lives of people using the technology. /rant mode off

Re:No fun for doctors (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149724)

In the old days a doctor would examine you, find the cause usually, and prescribe effective treatment based on user experience, patient preference, patient history, possible severity of infections, etc. Also a face to face encounter enables the prescribed treatment(s) to seem more important to the patient.

Sorry but I do not see the doctor phasing out anytime in the near future, if anything, from doctors I know, they would love a conclusive result so more patients could be seen and helped: our (unhealthy)-health-care system is packed as is and tanking...

(Hell I know personally 7 doctors that are retiring early just to avoid the new laws and my local hospital will have to be shut down under the new laws in the next year if something doesn't change, not to say the system before was good, it was just less broke.)

Just my take sorry for the long read, but anything to extend the manpower of a doctor: I'm for it!

Re:No fun for doctors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150110)

1-0 to the apothecaries and clinical pharmacists!

Re:No fun for doctors (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32151120)

What about...

1) ...the things this device can't detect?

2) ...genetic conditions, like sickle cell?

3) ...non-virus/bacteria-related illnessess/conditions like diabetes, scoliosis, glaucoma, etc.?

4) ...when there's no spare batteries or power?

When they invent a machine that can outsmart a human in every way (not just be good at one thing, such as chess for instance) and closely replicate human insight and creativity, then doctors (more specifically, diagnosticians) will have something to worry about. By that time we'll probably be exploring new planets and coming into contact with thousands of new viruses and bacteria.

Re:No fun for doctors (1)

Tromad (1741656) | more than 4 years ago | (#32151146)

In the olden days doctors didn't know what you have so they just gave you antibiotics. That isn't too different from today, and it probably won't be much different in the future (identify and eliminate are separate problems), unless we figure out a way of eliminating common viruses, and even then we will probably have a new enemy, such as prions. Also, IMO, the majority of health concerns today in the western world are from lifestyle choices. It is hard to come up with a pill for fat and lazy, although we try.

Re:No fun for doctors (1)

dudpixel (1429789) | more than 4 years ago | (#32151368)

In the olden days (now) a doctor would examine at you and see what virus you probably had then order tests. But tomorrow if they can just scan for everything there's no need for doctors. :(

why the sad face? Where I live, doctors are simply an interface to their computer. If you cant fix it with pills then it doesn't exist. Doesn't matter what you go there for, they'll check your throat and ears.

As soon as you find a good doctor, chances are everyone else does too and then it becomes impossible to book an appointment because their schedule is always full, and then they invariably leave and go elsewhere...and the medical centre will never disclose where.

Bring back the days of doctors who were allowed to care. Fancy machines cant replace them. They can certainly replace a lot of doctors nowadays though.

Re:No fun for doctors (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32153544)

Doctors are just walking medical encyclopaedias anyway. I don't even recognise them as professionals; In the UK they're given the courtesy title of "Doctor" yet they don't necessarily have a doctorate.

I've started a little experiment; Every time I go to the doctor, I look up my symptoms on the web first. I don't tell the doctor I've done this, I don't offer suggestions, I do it out of curiosity. So far, I've a 100% correct diagnosis rate (my diagnosis is identical to his). I even get the name of the medication right.

A consumer version? (2, Interesting)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148800)

Mom might finally feel comfortable eating out.

Re:A consumer version? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148964)

Why? Do you have a lot of bacteria in your cunt?

Re:A consumer version? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149178)

Mom might finally feel comfortable eating out.

Yes but the embarrassment of whipping out my "three-inch-long bio-detector" and then waiting "just 24 hours" for the results before continuing is going to ruin the mood. Oh you meant that kind of eating out. In that case I apologize for the worlds geekiest "your momma" joke. On on "Mothers Day" no less.

Re:A consumer version? (4, Insightful)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149350)

Actually an at home STD test kit isn't a bad idea

Re:A consumer version? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149434)

Actually an at home STD test kit isn't a bad idea

I think it would work with three problems:

1) Some folks loudly and publicly claim birth control devices can't be used to prevent pregnancy because in the heat of the moment they are too inconvenient. Personally I think those people are making mating calls not accurately describing others. Regardless of who's personal life they're talking about, they'll use the same anti-marketing on this device.

2) STDs rates probably trend toward the stupid, addicted, and poor. Not exactly a marketing droid's dream. Giving them to unmarried people for free will get the loudmouth neo-puritans whom run the USA all twisted up. Could probably sell plenty to nervous people whom almost certainly are not infected, but from a public health perspective those would be wasted.

3) Dumb reactions. Thankfully most STDs aren't fatal, but you'll still have endless idiotic reactions to positive results. Can't catch it on the first try. Spray some bactine or windex on it and that'll prevent it. I suppose they'll be an increase in "heat of passion" murders when the spouse fails.

Re:A consumer version? (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32152788)

We already have home tests here in the Netherlands. I work in the building above the STD testing facilities in Amsterdam, and every day there is a line of people wanting to get checked... not only because they think they've got something, but people are starting to get checked regularly, it isn't taboo here anymore. But especially to increase the test rate of younger people you can get a test kit at home now. I also received the letter for the Chlamydia check recently, when you answer they send you a test kit so you don't have to come stand in line at the clinic.

I know for a fact that a test that is anonymous, works easy and checks for all STDs would become very popular fast, especially because the government would probably hand them out to all high risk groups...

Re:A consumer version? (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32154682)

I live in the Netherlands and I didn't know about the home test :D
Any idea where I can order one?
Not for the anonymity (or I would check that box above this one) but for the ease of not having to take a free day/morning off from work for it.

Re:A consumer version? (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155110)

Information about the free Chlamydia test can be found here: https://www.chlamydiatest.nl/ [chlamydiatest.nl] . The problem is it's the first time they do this and only works by invite now... If you live in Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Limburg and are between 16-29 you will be invited to participate. I do not know when other regions and ages will be able to participate...
Self tests are also available at some pharmacies, but please note the following warning: http://www.gezond.amsterdam.nl/Infectieziekten--hygine/SOA--HIV/Zelftesten [amsterdam.nl]

Re:A consumer version? (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32159096)

Thanks for the info :)

Re:A consumer version? (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149354)

Mom might finally feel comfortable eating out.

Your mom sounds quite experienced.

No, really, every time I try to go out to eat any more I find myself with food poisoning. The more I eat out, the more I want to eat at home...

Dammit Jim!, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32148872)

I'm a Doctor not a Miracle Worker!

Applications in dentistry? (1)

Leo_07 (1711944) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148902)

I wonder what the applications are for future dentists like me? Many systemic diseases can already be detected even earlier in a patient's mouth by trained dentists.

I want one in my House (1)

stigmato (843667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149048)

Sounds like a precursor to the Poison Snooper [wikia.com] from Dune. If they make it faster I wouldn't be surprised to see wealthy, influential people and families employing these.

Re:I want one in my House (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149146)

Yeah because people are constantly trying to poison 'wealthy, influential people and families'.

Probiotics? (2, Interesting)

Darth Cider (320236) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149364)

I hope they consider the effects of beneficial bacterial flora in the body and create an array that can test for them too. It would be interesting to compare symbiotic cultures that reduce the effect of pathogens. (Now that antibiotics are so much less effective. Let the bacteria duke it out among themselves.)

24 hours? (2, Interesting)

TooMad (967091) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149448)

How is that useful in a biological or chemical attack? 11:05pm attack occurs, 11:06pm you've received lethal exposure to the biological attack, 11:05pm the next day...yep you're going to die to weaponized small pox alright. Or they could just use a chemical agent. After 24 hours they detect neither virus nor bacteria. Even if they could detect a chemical attack generally kills in a lot less than 24 hours. How is this device even remarkable at all? If I bought 388,000 cable subscriptions I could totally DVR 776,000 shows at once is that any more significant?

Finding the causes of disease (1)

Mutatis Mutandis (921530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149450)

I think the most useful application of systems like this (not necessarily this one) would be in research to identify the causes of disease. There has been a long-standing suspicion that bacterial or viral infections at least contribute to many diseases, from asthma to depression, but this has been difficult and costly to investigate on a large scale. The most infamous case is chronic fatigue syndrome, long suspected to be the result of a viral infection. Don't forget that it wasn't until 1982 that we figured out that stomach ulcers are mostly caused by bacteria, not by stress or acid food. The discovery that most cervical cancers are caused by a papillomavirus (of the same family as the viruses that cause warts) was a few years later. The impact on treatment and prevention of these diseases has been huge. A tool that would permit clinicians to study the presence of infections, even at low levels, in relatively large numbers of patients might reveal surprising links.

How About Just ID'ing "Not the Patient" DNA? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149490)

What about just identifying any DNA in the patient's blood that's not the patient's? There would have to be tolerance for the DNA of all the other organisms that live in human bodies without harm (intestine bacteria, etc), but that would seem to be a smaller task than 2000 species.

Such a device could answer thoroughly the question of whether there's any infection at all. If the answer is "yes", then further tests can be done to identify the infection's specific cause. If it's no, diagnosis can quickly move to consider other causes than infection. That kind of decision seems to map much closer to what's needed immediately on the scene than does a screen for only 2000 viruses and bacteria out of the many more that it can't identify, but which still need the same treatment.

Re:How About Just ID'ing "Not the Patient" DNA? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149608)

Because DNA probes don't work that way. Reassembling complete organism genomes is a non-trivial task; all the current methods rely on chopping DNA up into fragments, sequencing those fragments, and then reassembling the fragment sequences. Unless you have a complete sequence for that particular patient, which unfortunately isn't yet quite practical, you can't say for sure that a given fragment is "not patient."

What they're doing instead, it sounds like to me, is looking for known subsequences that are characteristic of particular known, sequenced pathogens. Now, there's no guarantee that these subsequences don't come from the patient, but it's a pretty good bet, especially if those subsequences have never been observed in any sequenced human genome. The universe of "possible subsequences that aren't human in origin" is an infeasibly large search space.

Re:How About Just ID'ing "Not the Patient" DNA? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149636)

Going to reply myself, to add something important I forgot to mention in the previous post: if you're looking for RNA viruses such as HIV, then to identify "not patient" you'd also need to have a sequence of the patient's entire genome, but also the entire transcriptome, i.e. all the RNA which can be transcribed from the patient's DNA (and then, often, post-processed in various ways which can alter the sequence.) This is a problem which is dramatically larger than "just" getting a complete DNA sequence. I think we're on track for the "thousand-dollar" genome within a decade, at which point your DNA sequence will become part of your standard medical record, but a complete personalized transcriptome is still a distant dream. So for this application, it's much, much easier to look for RNA sequences known to be characteristic of HIV and other RNA viruses than it is to look for "anything that might not have come from this guy."

Re:How About Just ID'ing "Not the Patient" DNA? (1)

teidou (651247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149618)

The point of test like this is that it is a quick screen. If you think of DNA and RNA together as being the source code for an organism, these probes are basically regular expressions looking for stretches of DNA that match DNA/RNA sequences of pathogens - quick and easy. In order to find "not the patient", we would need to know "the patient" DNA, which, aside from issues of definition, would have to start with PCR and sequencing of the person - not at all quick, and would have to be on file before the infection in order to be able to identify the "not the person" parts. I'm more worried about false positives - no test is 100% perfect; this amounts to running several thousand imperfect tests against the patient's sample. So there are many opportunities for false positives to occur. I'm guessing there's either build-in redundancy for internal controls.

Re:How About Just ID'ing "Not the Patient" DNA? (1)

Raptoer (984438) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149628)

That would result in too many false positives.

It wouldn't be too difficult (relative to this) to make something that reacted to any DNA that's not eukaryotic. But chances are, that there are a bunch of different little bacteria going through your blood. These bacteria just haven't been caught by your immune system yet, but aren't really doing any harm. There's no guarantee that these pathogens even harm humans, just that they've somehow ended up in your blood.

What a choice in names (2, Funny)

Alpha232 (922118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149704)

Obviously anyone with half a brain cell would have named it

Lawrence Livermore Array for Microbial Assessment (LLAMA)

Re:What a choice in names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150208)

Lawrence Livermore Array for Microbial Assessment and Detection (LLAMDA)?

3-inch long bio prober (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32149778)

Turns out good things really do come in small packages.

I personally believe a few more inches might help get the job done a "little bit better", at least that is what she tends to prefer :)

In related news... (2, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150270)

Gregory House has a new career as an ice cream truck driver, serving up abuse and sexual innuendo for ten year old kids.

-

Re:In related news... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32153560)

Whenever I watch that program, I forget that Hugh Laurie is English.

He is a superbly talented actor.

The bad news (1)

rbrander (73222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150288)

The TV series "House, M.D." will now become a six-minute "webisode" show.

Unless ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32150324)

It's on eBay as "Buy It Now", I'm not interested.

Who knows.. (1)

NeuralAbyss (12335) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150370)

In a few years time, it may even be voted Psi-Scan of the Year, best budget model, 3 years running!

The length is okay, but... (1)

bakdor (1617851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150384)

... I'm more concerned about the girth.

Really, I... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32151304)

donotwant.

So what? Isn't virus scanning flawed? (1)

cciRRus (889392) | more than 4 years ago | (#32152022)

Yes, you could scan 3000 viruses but what's the use [slashdot.org] ?

Public Availability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32154028)

I am all giddy, just thinking about how much more/less of the left-overs in the fridge I'll be able to eat 4 days after the meal... I cannot wait for public availability.

24 hour lag in everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32154282)

...and you thought the security lines at the airport were long now.

Not a 3-inch device (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#32154694)

The device is not 3-inches long. The consumable portion is 3-inches long. This is like saying that my HP color printer is only 3 inches long: The printer is actually 2 feet long, but the cartridge is only 3 inches. Also, the odds are that it requires additional processing before it even gets to the device.

I'm not knocking what they have done -- just knocking the oversimplified press releases.

Here is the original press release from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory [llnl.gov]

Hmmm, funghi! (1)

zwarte piet (1023413) | more than 4 years ago | (#32155218)

Thanks, now I'm hungry..... you insensittive clod
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