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Awards

Topic Information Award/Contract Number Proposal Information Company Performance
Period
Award/Contract
Value
Abstract

H-SB04.1-002
Chem-Bio Sensors Employing Novel Receptor Scaffolds

NBCHC040073 04110102
(FY04.1 Phase I)
Nucleoprozyme Receptors for Biological Detection

Echo Technical
Po Box 1238
Cedar Park, TX 78630-1238

04/01/2004
to
10/15/2004
$99,501.00

Echo Technical, with Dr. Ellington at the University of Texas at Austin, has performed initial testing of a demonstration biosensor capable of using aptamer-based receptors (Biological Reconfigurable Interface Electronics For Classification and Analysis of Selected Elements, or BRIEFCASE). After initial testing, we found that aptamer-based biological sensors as currently developed are not sufficiently sensitive to provide detection of pathogens before wide-spread exposure and infection have already occurred, and a more aggressive solution would be required to meet the needs of Homeland Security. Dr. Ellington has devised a preliminary design for a new type of biosensor receptor (a so-called 'nucleoprozyme', or NPZ) with optimal signaling characteristics. We propose to develop this new biosensor molecule that is non-reactive in a benign environment, but which spontaneously amplifies the detection of specific pathogens. This novel biosensor would produce an extremely low background signal, but in the presence of a targeted analyte signal detections rapidly and with high reliability. This new NPZ molecule and a prototype NPZ-based biosensor will be demonstrated to have performance, logistical, and cost advantages over the best available antibody-based commercial sensors, with feasibility demonstrated by the end of Phase I. The goal of Phase I is to determine the feasibility of using NPZ molecules as biosensor receptors. This will be accomplished by demonstrating the detection of nucleoprotein complexes that do not have catalytic activity, with the following five objectives to be met: 1) Modify the BRIEFCASE (developed by Echo Technical) to be compatible with the requirements of NPZ receptors (i.e., design and fabricate the Mini-BRIEFCASE). 2) Select nucleic acids that complement a beta-galactosidase deletion variant. 3) Demonstrate that nucleic acids that complement a beta-galactosidase deletion variant can be used to sensitively detect sequence information. 4) Show that beta-galactosidase can generate an optical signal that can be sensitively detected in the Mini-BRIEFCASE. 5) Show that surrogate nucleic acid biosensors can be immobilized and used for sensitive target detection in the Mini-BRIEFCASE. By the completion of Phase III of this SBIR, the technology developed here promises a commercially viable long shelf-life multiplexed configurable NPZ-based biosensor prototype. This biosensor will meet several interesting market needs, including one example recently identified by HSARPA in Research Announcement 03-01, for rapid response biological identification systems. This biosensor would also be applicable to first-responder equipment for sale to state and local governments, DoD force protection applications, and medical diagnostic applications in the private sector.

H-SB04.1-002
Chem-Bio Sensors Employing Novel Receptor Scaffolds

NBCHC040080 04110257
(FY04.1 Phase I)
FRET Aptamer-Based Biosensor Array for Homeland Defense

Operational Technologies Corporation
4100 N.W. Loop 410 Suite 230
San Antonio, TX 78229-4253

04/01/2004
to
10/15/2004
$99,691.76

Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET)-DNA aptamers are oligonucleotides that have been modified with fluorophores and quenchers in their structures so that upon binding to their target analytes, the fluorophore and quencher become separated and capable of emitting light to indicate that binding has occurred. In Phase I, Operational Technologies Corporation (OpTech) will compare a "rational design" method for the engineering of FRET aptamers in which known aptamer sequences will be selectively modified with fluorophores and quenchers with the intent of achieving optimal FRET. Unfortunately, selective modification may also effect binding affinity or specificity of the aptamers. Therefore, OpTech will compare the "rational design" method with its own proprietary "random selection" method of generating FRET aptamers. Under the random selection method, the starting library of random DNA sequences will be doped with fluorophore- and quencher-labeled nucleotides that become incorporated into the final aptamer structures. One major advantage of this approach is that potential effects of the fluorophores and quenchers on aptamer binding affinity and specificity are nullified (i.e., not chosen) in the selection process. By the end of Phase I, OpTech will choose one method (rational or random selection) to proceed with into Phase II. In Phase II, OpTech will use the chosen method to generate FRET aptamers to several pesticides (chemical warfare agent simulants) and will clone and sequence the anti-pesticide aptamers. OpTech will also construct and optimize an aptamer array chip and build a compact FRET array scanner prototype for field use by first responders. The compact array scanner will be constructed in conjunction with Taboada Research Instruments, Inc. (San Antonio, TX). FRET aptamers can release their bound analytes when heated and flushed and resume their original conformations at lower temperatures. Therefore, the multianalyte array should be reusable for many cycles of detection. In Phase III, OpTech will pursue other commercial applications of the technology such as medical and veterinary diagnostics, environmental monitoring, food safety, and other applications.

H-SB04.1-002
Chem-Bio Sensors Employing Novel Receptor Scaffolds

NBCHC040103 04110806
(FY04.1 Phase I)
Novel Aptamer:Peptide Based ECL Assays for Homeland Security

Accacia International LLC
1925 Rutland Dr.
Suite E
Austin, TX 78758-5480

04/01/2004
to
10/15/2004
$100,000.00

Accacia International LLC is a nascent biotech company, certified as a WBE/MBE, based in the heart of Texas and in the capital city of Austin. Accacia's scientists have provided consulting services and performed research work on SBIR projects in collaboration with other awardees, also developed products for commercial use. Accacia has also teamed up with the Ellington Labs at the University of Texas at Austin, to perform research work in the field of aptamer development. Accacia has to its credit several achievements. Although unrelated to this proposal since its inception in 2000, Accacia Inc. has developed and prototyped a reflectance IC Strip reader for the medical diagnostic industry. Patents are pending for the same. Additional patents are in process for two other technologies. Accacia undertakes OEM manufacturing of immunochromatographic strips for various diagnostic serum assays. Antibodies are often modified and conjugated for use in detection of biowarfare agents, foodborne pathogens, and for use in clinical diagnostics. Nucleic acids (aptamers) specifically selected to bind to targets of interest, have been demonstrated as potential replacement for antibodies due to their high specificity, accelerated development time, and low cost of production. Developments of aptamers to certain targets like Bacillus Anthracis (BA) whole spores also pose their own set of challenges. The chemistries available to aptamers are relatively limited and to some extent impede their ability to recognize an even wider variety of targets. For example, aptamers are by and large polyanions, and thus may have difficulty recognizing targets that are negatively charged. In order to expand the range of nucleic acid chemistry while still maintaining the inherent advantages of nucleic acid biosensors relative to antibodies, Accacia proposes to develop both covalent and non-covalent nucleic acid:peptide conjugates and to utilize these conjugates in novel signal transduction schemes. All of the molecular regents developed during Phase I will be adapted during Phase II for use with the IGEN ORIGEN analyzer. This analytical platform has been chosen for three reasons. First, electrochemical luminescence (ECL) provides extremely sensitive levels of detection when compared with traditional fluorescence detection systems. Second, ORIGEN technology is either currently being used, or soon to be employed by a number of government programs including the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMARID), the Department of Defense's Automated Biological Agent Testing System program (ABATS), the Department of Defense for the Joint Biological Agent Identification and Diagnostic System (JBAIDS) and the Department of Defense U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. Third, there are numerous antibody assays on the ORIGEN which can be directly compared with the novel reagents we are generating, as per the requirements set out for the SBIR.

H-SB04.1-002
Chem-Bio Sensors Employing Novel Receptor Scaffolds

NBCHC050061 0413004
(FY04.1 Phase II)
Peptide Based Assays for Homeland Security

Accacia International LLC
1925 Rutland Dr.
Suite E
Austin, TX 78758-5480

06/17/2005
to
06/22/2007
$750,000.00

Accacia International Topic No. H-SB04.1-002 Solicitation Title: CHEM-BIOSENSORS EMPLOYING NOVEL RECEPTOR SCAFFOLDS Technology Areas: Chemical / Biodefense Proposal Title: Novel Aptamer: Peptide Based Assays for Homeland Security Technical Abstract: Accacia International has produced a potentially powerful system for the detection of a wide variety of biothreat agents. Accacia International proposes to design and prototype a compact, handheld fluorescence polarization based sensor capable of detecting biowarfare agents. Accacia International, with the aid of Dr. Andrew Ellington's laboratory, will develop assays for a variety of biothreat agents and a device that can detect a signal created by the transduction of high-affinity peptide binding into fluorescently labeled nucleic acid signal. Multiple peptide ligands selected for by peptide phage display will be immobilized on phycoerythrin (PE) in order to create multivalent conjugates that can bind with high affinity for the surfaces of biothreat agents including Bacillus anthracis and Escherichia coli. These multivalent conjugates, so-called 'burrs', will also contain nucleic acid tags that can be amplified by rolling circle amplification (RCA). Peptide-mediated RCA will be detected by observing the substantive changes in fluorescence polarization (FP) that will result from the incorporation of fluorescent nucleotides into long, concatameric polymers. The assays will be optimized and adapted to a MEMS-FP device designed by Accacia International. Anticipated Benefits / Potential Commercial Applications of the Reasearch and Development: There is a great demand for ultrasensitive assays and instrumentation in the clinical diagnostic, water monitoring, agricultural and food industries. The Accacia Team will couple proximity ligation with the ultrasensitivity and speed of a fluorescence sensor by incorporating 'burrs' into fluorescence polarization assays adapted to a MEMS-FP device to be used initially by the Homeland Defense and adapted for commercial use in detection of foodborne pathogens and marketed to food and agricultural industries.

H-SB04.1-004
Computer Modelling Tool for Vulnerability Assessment of U.S. Infrastructure

NBCHC040111 04111046
(FY04.1 Phase I)
Strategic Effects-based Objective Approach to Determine the Likelihood of Possible Terrorist Attacks

21st Century Technologies. Inc.
11675 Jollyville Road, Suite 300
Austin, TX 78759-4105

04/05/2004
to
10/19/2004
$99,983.00

The goal of this research is to extend TMODS (Terrorist Modus Operandi Detection System), that has been funded by DARPA's EELD (Evidence Extraction and Link Discovery) and Genoa 2, and TIA programs. TMODS uses terrorist network analysis (TNA) to build the representation for abnormal social networks indicative of terrorist or illicit network-centric cells and searches for these patterns in huge pools of transactional information to detect terrorist activities. We have integrated TMODS with CAT (Casual Analysis Tool) to enable analyzing the existence and detection of these cells to compute the probability of actual terrorist events and derive a probabilistic plan assessment of the successful execution of a terrorist event. Under this proposed Homeland Security SBIR effort, we will leverage this integration and develop new functionality for obtaining and reasoning about knowledge about terrorist groups, terrorist attack methods, and infrastructure targets to produce a strategic vulnerability assessment tool. Our proposed TMODS extensions will add the specific information about specific infrastructure targets, terrorist groups, and terrorist attack methods through ontology, process, and causal models to reason about the likelihood of attack and what method against critical infrastructure assets.

H-SB04.1-004
Computer Modelling Tool for Vulnerability Assessment of U.S. Infrastructure

NBCHC050050 0412014
(FY04.1 Phase II)
Strategic Effects-based Objective Approach to Determine the Likelihood of Possible Terrorist Attacks

21st Century Technologies. Inc.
11675 Jollyville Road, Suite 300
Austin, TX 78759-4105

03/21/2005
to
09/20/2007
$749,957.00

Defending our borders, ports, and critical infrastructure against all possible terrorist attacks (i.e., chemical, biological, nuclear, or economic) across the entirety of our nation may, at first, seem overwhelming. The issue is not so much the lack of effective counter-terrorism technologies, but the fundamental inability to apply them across all potential targets. We lack an overarching strategic integrated approach that enables systematic application of these defense technologies where and when they are needed most. Complying with the stated goals of DHS, the Advanced Vulnerability of Infrastructure Assessment Tool (AVIAT) will be an enterprise-wide solution implemented as middleware, to facilitate application and data level system integration and interoperability for the purpose of optimal distribution of defense capabilities. AVIAT uses a system-based approach that fuses ontologies about terrorist groups, motivations, and attack methods with criticality assessments of infrastructure vulnerabilities in our homeland.

H-SB04.1-008
Advanced Secure Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Related Distributed Control Systems

NBCHC040093 04110195
(FY04.1 Phase I)
Innovative SCADA Security Mechanism

Dunti LLC
3925 W. Braker Lane
Austin, TX 78759-

04/01/2004
to
10/15/2004
$100,000.00

Today, Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) is popularly deployed in automated control system of many of the Nation's critical infrastructures. Most of these systems were designed and built for operational efficiency. With cyber attack becoming an important factor, it is becoming essential to protect SCADA systems. Over the past couple of years industry is integrating many security features like firewall, VPN, IDS, and encryption to protect SCADA systems from cyber attacks. This project proposes an innovative mechanism that will introduce security, high visibility, intrusion prevention & detection, geographic awareness, and higher efficiency along with allowing integration of industry standard security mechanisms. This technology will be able to integrate into many of the popular SCADA software system enabling user transparency. This mechanism is flexible and applicable to most industry sectors such as electric power generation, water and wastewater treatment, gas industry, chemical processing, etc. This technology virtually eliminates hack attacks and data hijacking. It also pinpoints the exact location of any attempted hack attacks enabling quick response.

H-SB04.1-008
Advanced Secure Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Related Distributed Control Systems

NBCHC040097 04110821
(FY04.1 Phase I)
Advanced Secure Supervisory and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Realted Discribution Control Systems

Asier Technology Corporation
5068 West Plano Parkway, Suite 336
Plano, TX 75093-4408

04/01/2004
to
10/15/2004
$99,478.00

The goal of this study is to attempt to place, where possible, highly efficient encryption and authentication algorithms in legacy devices already installed in the SCADA network. Where this is not possible, low cost inline security units will be proposed. On the larger scale, multi-level secure Internet protocols will be examined as a method to facilitate the sharing of control and status information between authenticated and authorized utilities and security agencies in times of crisis. This multilevel secure Internet protocol could allow a laptop computer with a properly authorized and authenticated operator to log on and view critical status information and begin immediate mitigation in the event of a major network issue even if both the primary and redundant control centers are inaccessible.

H-SB04.1-008
Advanced Secure Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Related Distributed Control Systems

NBCHC050042 0413001
(FY04.1 Phase II)
Advanced Security for SCADA Systems

Asier Technology Corporation
5068 West Plano Parkway, Suite 336
Plano, TX 75093-4408

04/11/2005
to
09/30/2006
$749,312.00

This effort will seek to provide end-to-end security for America's existing critical infrastructure. Asier has gathered a broad coalition of SCADA industry leaders for this effort. Asier and its partners will demonstrate a low cost encryption / authentication firmware upgrade that can be installed over the air (OTA). At the same time Asier will work with the SCADA industry to develop and demonstrate a variety of other security solutions that can be immediately retrofitted into the existing SCADA network. Particular attention will be paid to addressing the security issues with web-based SCADA management software. Cost control and ease of deployment will be of paramount concern. The presence of so many industry leaders and their generous contributions of hardware and engineering time allow this project to have a scope far larger than its budget would normally allow. Serious reliability and interoperability testing of the demonstrated solutions should be possible during this effort. We will work to ensure that the solutions developed during this effort will be certified for deployment. Some of the companies involved expect to commercialize and deploy solution during the course of this project.