RealNews

Bioterror research spurs ideas in medicine

Boston-area scientists are developing a sensor capable of sounding an early alarm about acts of bioterrorism, a paperback-sized device that would be integrated into ventilation systems to detect trace amounts of anthrax, ricin, and other potentially lethal toxins. The technology has proved so promising that the federal government has quietly entered into a $2.1 million contract to aid in development of the detector, designed to monitor the air in office buildings, malls, even subways. And in an illustration of scientific cross-pollination becoming more common in Boston and nationally, the same technology is about to be tested as a way to diagnose disease. It would represent a back-to-the-future approach to the practice of medicine: A century ago, doctors routinely sniffed the breath of patients to identify illness. The new device relies on the same concept. Full Story

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