The value and validation of broad spectrum biosensors for diagnosis and biodefense

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Broad spectrum biosensors capable of identifying diverse organisms are transitioning from the realm of research into the clinic. These technologies simultaneously capture signals from a wide variety of biological entities using universal processes. Specific organisms are then identified through bioinformatic signature-matching processes. This is in contrast to currently accepted molecular diagnostic technologies, which utilize unique reagents and processes to detect each organism of interest. This paradigm shift greatly increases the breadth of molecular diagnostic tools with little increase in biochemical complexity, enabling simultaneous diagnostic, epidemiologic, and biothreat surveillance capabilities at the point of care. This, in turn, offers the promise of increased biosecurity and better antimicrobial stewardship. Efficient realization of these potential gains will require novel regulatory paradigms reflective of the generalized, information-based nature of these assays, allowing extension of empirical data obtained from readily available organisms to support broader reporting of rare, difficult to culture, or extremely hazardous organisms.

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