The BioPen has been designed to help soldiers on the battlefield determine whether they have been exposed to dangerous biological agents in under 20 minutes. The novel diagnostic device – equipped with a small LCD screen - is user-friendly, does not require the user to have any preliminary training, and is self-sufficient. In addition, it can be used to check whether water is drinkable, to detect environmental toxins, and to diagnose various common infections such as Hepatitis B and C, and even several types of cancer, more accurately and efficiently than tests currently in use. This amazing feat is achieved by a special method devised by the Ben Gurion University team for antigen detection, which is an adaptation of the widely employed Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA).
The ELISA at Work
When the body's immune system encounters a particular antigen (for example, a characteristic protein on the surface of a virus or bacterium), antibodies that are specific for that antigen intercept it, physically binding to it in a "lock and key"-like fashion, thereby neutralizing the organism. The ELISA is a fundamental immunological and biochemical technique, utilized to detect a putative antigen or antibody in a sample, based on antigen-antibody interactions. If a putative antigen (or likewise, an antibody) is detected, a signal is produced in the form of a measurable change.