General Atomics Awarded DARPA Contract for Portable Diagnostic Device

Device to Provide Bio-Threat Detection Capability in the Field 

SAN DIEGO, CA, 14 FEB 2018 – General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that it has been awarded a 12 month contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a next generation Portable Diagnostic Platform for personnel to quickly self-perform testing for an array of infectious diseases in the field. Over the 12 month contract period, GA-EMS will develop a verification prototype device and related assay cards for point-of-use molecular diagnostics testing.

“Biological threats are a growing concern for field personnel and troops, driving the need for small, rugged, and easy to use diagnostic devices that can rapidly indicate positive or negative results to infectious disease exposure,” stated Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “Currently it takes a trip to a lab and days to receive diagnostic results. This new device, and easy to use disposable cartridges, will provide lab-quality molecular diagnostics in the field within an hour. This means field personnel can quickly and locally detect whether they have come into contact with diseases such as Ebola, malaria, dengue fever, or influenza. Reliable diagnosis in a shorter timeframe translates into a faster response and more effective treatment.”

GA-EMS will develop a next generation Portable Diagnostic Platform with unique sensor technology and customizable, single-use disposable cartridges capable of lab-quality molecular diagnostics. A small fluid sample is inserted into a cartridge containing a molecular sensor chip and various reagents that will react when they come into contact with certain pathogens. Testing occurs when the cartridge is inserted into the Portable Diagnostic Platform device, which interacts with the cartridge to prepare and analyze the sample. An easy to read positive or negative test result is then displayed in less than one hour.

“This is truly breakthrough technology, and one that GA-EMS is uniquely positioned to advance into the next development and testing phase,” continued Rolf Ziesing, vice president of Programs at GA-EMS. “We recently expanded our operations to address the complexities of designing and manufacturing ruggedized microelectronics, advanced sensors, and signal processing technologies for field-deployable systems. This new contract provides us with another opportunity to work with DARPA to develop, test and manufacture a critical technology that has the potential to directly impact our national security, and the welfare and safety of our warfighters and field personnel.”

About General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) Group is a global leader in the research, design, and manufacture of first-of-a-kind electromagnetic and electric power generation systems. GA-EMS’ history of research, development, and technology innovation has led to an expanding portfolio of specialized products and integrated system solutions supporting aviation, space systems and satellites, missile defense, power and energy, and processing and monitoring applications for critical defense, industrial, and commercial customers worldwide.

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Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Contract No. HR001118C0045. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the DARPA. Approved for Public Release, Distribution Unlimited.

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