Russia divines supersensitive toxic-control gadgets

Russian scientists have developed supersensitive methods of monitoring the content of toxic agents. At a session on Tuesday the presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences focused on this matter.

Sergei Varfolomeyev, Doctor of Chemistry, told the RIA Novosti correspondent that Russian scientists have created novel devices 10,000 times more productive than before. Basically new approaches are used here, he said. Among them are biosensors, use of bioluminescent analysis, so-called immunochips, as well as nanotechnology methods.

Professor Varfolomeyev said that the creation of biosensors required knowledge in the field of chemistry, biology, physics and electronics. Biosensors make use of enzymes which promptly and efficiently distinguish between many toxicants. Detectors have been developed which determine trillionths of a milligramme of lethal neurotoxins. Now researchers "hope to persuade" the Moscow government to install such sensors in the Moscow metro, said the professor.

Among neurotoxins are "delayed" toxicity poisons, which kill 10 to 15 days later. Enzymes have been found which monitor their invisible content and activity in the blood, said Varfolomeyev.

Moscow State University has developed an amazingly sensitive detector of microorganism cells, such as staphylococcus and salmonella. The biolumenescence method is used here. The surface of a desk near the Academy's presidium was quick tested right at the session and was found to contain between 70 and 100 microorganisms per square centimeter. Professor Varfolomeyev said it is almost OK. From 10 to 12 pathogenic cells are as a rule found per square centimeter of human skin.

Nanotechnical methods are used to determine cells agents of such dangerous diseases as plague, typhus, small pox, anthrax. Matrixes of antibodies, numbering up to 100 elements per square millimeter, created by Russian researchers, are tuned to certain types of hazardous microorganisms. Varfolomeyev stressed that similar methods can find use not only to discern danger but also to diagnose human diseases and combat them.