| || Biotechnology in defence
Author : Mathew, T. Lazar
Source : Defence Science Journal ; Vol:51(4) ; 2001 ; pp 393-399
Subject : 60 Biotechnology
Keywords : Biotechnology;Bioweapons;Human cloning;Biological warfare;Chemical warfare;Genetic engineering;Biosensors;Recombinant DNA technology
Abstract : Biotechnology, in its present perspective, encompasses activities, such as recombination of genes; cloning, or making genetically identical copies of a living thing; and splicing of genes from DNA of one organism into the genome of unrelated species, to create new, self-reproducing forms of life. The vast potential of biotechnology is being increasingly realised, and efforts are in progress to harness it for improving quality and quantity of bio-weapons, The bio-weapons, as such, are highly attractive because of their non-detection by routine security systems, ease of access, low production cost and easy transportation, A wide range of genetically manipulated organisms and their by-products are considered to have an added advantage, because these genetically manipulated biologics not only accentuate the existing properties of bio-weapons, but also could be made target-specific. Biotechnology, if used prudently, can play a significant role to counter such threats of biologics, viz., by producing (i) bio-armoury comprising powerful antibiotics, antisera toxoids and vaccines to neutralise and eliminate a wide range of diseases, and (ii) bio-sensors for rapid detection, identification and neutralisation of biological warfare agents. This article elucidates some facets of biological warfare, legal protective strategies emphasised through international consultation, cooperation and adherence to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and discusses how biotechnology could be effectively used to strengthen countries' defence and combat the threat of biological warfare.
| || Nanoparticle-based Sensors
Author : Khanna, V.K.
Source : Defence Science Journal ; Vol:58(5) ; 2008 ; pp 608-616
Keywords : Nanoparticles;Nanomaterials;Chemical warfare;Biological warfare;Toxins;Sensors;Biosensors;Quantum dots;Chemiresistors
Abstract : Nanoparticles exhibit several unique properties that can be applied to develop chemical and biosensors possessing desirable features like enhanced sensitivity and lower detection limits. Gold nanoparticles are coated with sugars tailored to recognise different biological substances. When mixed with a weak solution of the sugar-coated nanoparticles, the target substance, e.g., ricin or E.coli, attaches to the sugar, thereby altering its properties and changing the colour. Spores of bacterium labeled with carbon dots have been found to glow upon illumination when viewed with a confocal microscope. Enzyme/nanoparticle-based optical sensors for the detection of organophosphate (OP) compounds employ nanoparticle-modified fluorescence of an inhibitor of the enzyme to generate the signal for the OP compound detection. Nanoparticles shaped as nanoprisms, built of silver atoms, appear red on exposure to light. These nanoparticles are used as diagnostic labels that glow when target DNA, e.g., those of anthrax or HIV, are present. Of great importance are tools like gold nanoparticle-enhanced surface-plasmon resonance sensor and silver nanoparticle surface-enhanced portable Raman integrated tunable sensor. Nanoparticle metal oxide chemiresistors using micro electro mechanical system hotplate are very promising devices for toxic gas sensing. Chemiresistors comprising thin films of nanogold particles, encapsulated in monomolecular layers of functionalised alkanethiols, deposited on interdigitated microelectrodes, show resistance changes through reversible absorption of vapours of harmful gases. This paper reviews the state-of-the-art sensors for chemical and biological terror agents, indicates their capabilities and applications, and presents the future scope of these devices.