General purpose, field-portable cell-based biosensor platform
There are several groups of researchers developing cell-based biosensors for chemical and biological warfare agents based on electrophysiologic monitoring of cells. In order to transition such sensors from the laboratory to the field, a general-purpose hardware and software platform is required. This paper describes the design, implementation, and field-testing of such a system, consisting of cell-transport and data acquisition instruments. The cell-transport module is a self-contained, battery-powered instrument that allows various types of cell-based modules to be maintained at a preset temperature and ambient CO2 level while in transit or in the field. The data acquisition module provides 32 channels of action potential amplification, filtering, and real-time data streaming to a laptop computer. At present, detailed analysis of the data acquired is carried out off-line, but sufficient computing power is available in the data acquisition module to enable the most useful algorithms to eventually be run real-time in the field. Both modules have sufficient internal power to permit realistic field-testing, such as the example presented in this paper.