A consortium headed by Columbia University Medical Center and involving Sionex Corp. (www.sionex.com) has been awarded a $25 million grant to develop new technologies to rapidly screen large numbers of people for radiation exposure in the event of a terrorist attack on a nuclear facility or detonation of a radiological "dirty bomb." The grant was given to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) through the National Institute of Health (NIH). Over the next five years, the team will develop new devices that can assess, rapidly following a potentially catastrophic radiological incident, the radiation doses received by hundreds of thousands of individuals.
Sionex will lead the development and commercialization of a handheld device for noninvasive screening for radiation exposure. According to Anthony D. Bashall, vice president of marketing and business development at Sionex, "The device will analyze sweat, urine, or saliva samples to detect and identify metabolites which are indicative of radiation exposure." The company's technology is currently used to detect chemical and biological warfare agents, explosives, toxic compounds, and narcotics with low-cost portable devices.