LANL Develops a New Biosensor to Detect Toxins


Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) researchers have developed a Biosensor-type of device capable of detecting a wide range of toxins. The device can detect bacterial signatures, viral signatures, biothreats, white powders, and more toxins from the blood, water, food, CSF, and animal samples. LANL researchers have named this device the Portable EnGineered Analytic Sensor with aUtomated Sampling (PEGASUS).

According to the project’s lead researcher Harshini Mukudnan, the ability to detect pathogens, biological threats, or toxins quickly and accurately without prior knowledge of the agent would improve human and environmental health outcomes.

Harshini believes that this discovery is an excellent milestone because emergency responders know the type of emergency they are handling. Additionally, the device is capable of providing emergency providers with quick results.

LANL Creates a One of a Kind Device

The biosensor does not require expertise or laboratory equipment to operate. This device can differentiate bacterial and viral signatures hence allowing the proper choice of treatment. Mukundan noted that a proper choice of treatment would improve a patient’s health by reducing the causes of antimicrobial resistance.

The sensor has an integrated device that processes samples with minimal hand handling, ensuring every sample is of the quality needed for detection. The aspect of minimal hand handling helps solve the misidentification of biomolecules, especially in the field. Now researchers can prepare for any outbreak or biothreat events.

Mukundan also added that their technology could detect infections in a doctor’s office, a remote area, a clinic, or a laboratory. The device can also discriminate between gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and their indeterminate sources within 15-30 minutes.

The Biosensor Working Principles

This device’s technology is based on a waveguide-optical biosensor developed at Los Alamos. Its sensory system detects analytes on a planar optical waveguide surface in a very minute field.

According to one of the researchers, Kiersten Lenz, detection occurs in two significant steps. First, the sensor processes the sample in a microfluidic device. This step only requires a small sample volume. The second step involves loading the processed sample into the miniaturized sensor, where detection occurs. The microfluidic device and sensor can be transported anywhere in the world since they don’t require special carriage.

Additionally, medical practitioners can use this device for biosurveillance since it is meant to be used in remote areas of the world. It can impact the monitoring of the presence of potential biothreats from the environment. Sukunan is hopeful that their discovery will gain mainstream adoption.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here