Mayo test detects anthrax in minutes
November 5, 2001 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Mayo test detects anthrax in minutes The Mayo Clinic says it has developed a DNA test that can identify anthrax in "less than an hour instead of days." The test was developed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, officials announced at a press conference today.
Isn't it great what people can accomplish together when they're motivated by humane concerns?
posted by 4midori (9 comments total)
Am I the only one who skimmed the link text too quickly and thought "Mayo? A do-it-yourself-at-home test"?
posted by idiolect at 12:37 PM on November 5, 2001


it woulda been a Miracle!
posted by tsarfan at 12:41 PM on November 5, 2001

untl they do this test on some real people, its little more than Mayo Clinic prestige-building PR.
posted by brucec at 12:56 PM on November 5, 2001

I know I am very dumb about science stuff. But I had long believed that first you tested things on animals (say, mice) and then if it worked you did it with Humans. These folks seem to say it works in the lab so let's begin to distribute it and hope that it works. We will know if it is used and someone dies of anthrax even though our test shows they did not have me out on this, please.
posted by Postroad at 12:59 PM on November 5, 2001

Postroad: That's generally true of drugs that are given as treatment to human beings, and as such, have the potential to cause adverse health side effects. This test, however, looks for antrax's bacterial DNA in a blood sample. The subject in question need only give a little blood, not actually subject themselves to an experimental treatment.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:11 PM on November 5, 2001

Poastraod: Also they'll give both tests (the old one and the new one) and see how well the new one compares. My guess is that this won't be used as the only test given for quite some time. Look at those quick strep tests, they still send cultures into the lab.
posted by geoff. at 2:33 PM on November 5, 2001

Postroad, they're not "testing humans". They're testing for DNA in blood samples. Once I've given them a sample, I don't expect to get it given back to me.

Naturally there will be certain incorrect results, both false positives and false negatives. The risk in either case is rather low; right now they're giving antibiotics to people merely on suspicion. Asymptomatic persons with negative results on the 30-minute test can wait 2-3 days for the regular test, if it's more accurate. Or a 2nd 30-minute test can be used to confirm. (Say there are 10% false negatives; two tests with false negatives should only happen 1% of the time.)
posted by dhartung at 9:31 PM on November 5, 2001

Meanwhile in Vienna, doctors claim to have developed a spray that kills the anthrax bacteria in seconds.
posted by liam at 10:01 PM on November 5, 2001

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