Project Description

The prompt and at the same time accurate detection of hazardous agents like radioactive, harmful and explosive materials remains an imperative condition for successful battle against emerging security challenges like terroristic and military threats with CBRN agents. The last represent detrimental compounds, materials and chemicals that are a serious danger for people. Some of them lead to negative effects during their exploitation while others induce long-term post-effects which often leave adverse impact on human health generations after. Genotoxins are one of the worst probabilities as they induce damage in the molecule of DNA causing mutations which when unrepaired could lead to cancer or even to death of the organism. Moreover, these mutations could also be transmitted to future generations with the same devastating consequences. Consequently, genotoxins, especially those emitted during terroristic acts, military operations or during training activities are a real threat for human health and bring the necessity for development of fast operating and sensitive devices for real-time field employable genotoxicity inspection.

Here, we propose the development of a state-of-the-art detector for robust, fast, sensitive and high quality recognition of genotoxins emitted in explosions. The detector will accurately detect within an hour potential threat from DNA damaging agents, chemicals as well as remnants of explosives on site.

The main objective is to develop a “ready-to-use” device for routine field-employable genotoxicity surveillance with high sensitivity to miniscule concentrations of genotoxins. For the purpose specifically bioengineered cells will be developed as living biosensors for genotoxins. These cells will be mixed with special biopolymers preserving them for a long time and at the same time keeping them sensitive to genotoxins. These cells will be dose-dependently probed for sensitivity toward a large set of genotoxins especially those known to be emitted during and after exploitation of conventional and non-conventional weapons and explosives. A major undertaking will be the design of high-throughput convenient energy efficient, low cost system for power supply as well as a smart gear to assure fast field-employable detector application.

A second major objective of the project will be the design of computer algorithm for quick data analysis allowing sensitive, robust and point-of-care genotoxicity detection. It will assure quick and detailed analysis of all data created during surveillance. Furthermore, this will provide the operator simultaneously with reliable quantitative and qualitative user-friendly device for evaluation of the obtained results in dose-dependent manner and in real time. The last is a prerequisite for the easy implementation of the smart detector and will permit outlining of parameters for intelligently planned and maintained countermeasures in the case of terroristic attacks and/or military operations.

The work is a strong collaborative research between three NATO countries (Bulgaria, Turkey and the USA) and one NATO-partner country (The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). This partnership will guarantee the successful implementation of the project and presents an opportunity not only for fostering the collaboration between NATO allies but also for training of young military and medical specialists in genome monitoring in cases of human health risk by CBRN agents emitted during and after military operations or terroristic acts.

The successful future implementation of the proposed smart genotoxicity detector will be utilized by military and medical centers in Bulgaria which are experts in the application of new developments in the field of military and non-military human health defence. The idea is to employ the joint efforts of scientists, military specialists, medical doctors and engineers in order to make the detector efficient, user-friendly and portable and thus to assure its future successful implementation in the real practice.