A simple point-of-care finger prick test to diagnose anthrax infection is moving into the final stages of development. Unlike current tests, which can take days for lab analysis, this one shows results within minutes. Immediate response is crucial in cases of anthrax exposure. Untreated, inhaled anthrax can be deadly within days.
The test is being developed by SRI International (Menlo Park, CA) under an 18-month, $2.5 million agreement with HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority . Based partly on a similar version developed at the CDC, the SRI test uses blood samples on small cartridges. After 15 minutes, the cartridge is placed in a palm-sized reader, which displays results. The convenient size, says HHS, makes it ideally suited for bedside use or by first responders.