A new device known as the Lawrence Livermore Microbial Detection Array (LLMDA) allows the detection of any virus or bacteria that has been sequenced and included among the array’s probes within 24 hours.

The LLMDA, which was developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) between October 2007 and February 2008, detects viruses and bacteria with the use of 388,000 probes. The current version of the LLMDA contains probes that can detect more than 2,000 viruses and 900 bacteria.

The technology identifies the biological pathogens on a priority screening list and already-sequenced bacteria or virus, including possible novel or emerging pathogens.

The LLMDA was tested by researchers in April to confirm the presence of an apparently benign pig virus in a vaccine. Tom Slezac, LLNL’s associate program leader for Informatics, is testing a next-generation LLMDA that boasts 2.1 million probes.

The latest LLMDA version also includes fungi and protozoa, with probes representing about 237,000 fungal sequences from thousands of fungi and about 202,000 protozoa sequences from 75 protozoa.

The LLNL team also plans to update probes on the array with new sequences of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms from GenBank and other public databases about once a year.

LLNL collaborates with the University of California, the Blood Systems Research Institute, the University of Texas Medical Branch, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of Bilthoven, the Statens Serum Institut of Copenhagen, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Marine Mammal Center of Sausalito.