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Patent owned by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation

Technology overview

Lockheed Martin Corporation is a US company (headquarters located in Bethesda, Maryland) that conducts business in the areas of aeronautics, electronic systems, IT services, integrated systems and solutions, and space systems.  Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation (Lockheed Martin facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee) manages the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where Dr Robert Burlage conducted research on transgenic Bacillus subtilis that can detect explosives (as indicated by the presence of trinitrotoluene, TNT).  The inventors have enabled the technology described in this granted US patent by providing an example producing transgenic Bacillus subtilis containing the salt stress gene (csb) regulatory element of B. subtilis upstream of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene from Aequorea victoria.

Details of the patent document

Patent or Publication No.

Title, Independent Claims and Summary

Assignee and licensing information

US 5972638

  • Earliest priority - 31 Jan 1997
  • Filed - 31 Jan 1997
  • Granted - 26 Oct 1999
  • Expected expiry - 31 Jan 2017

Title - Method for detection of buried explosives using a biosensor

Claim 1

A method of detecting explosives buried beneath the surface of the ground, comprising:

  1. spraying a biological sensor comprising a recombinant bacterial organism that responds to contact with said explosives by producing a detectable signal, on the surface of the ground in an area believed to be contaminated by said buried explosives, so that the biological sensor contacts soil of said surface of said ground believed to contain the buried explosives;
  2. allowing a sufficient time to pass to enable the biological sensor to react with explosive residue in said soil to produce a visually detectable signal; and
  3. examining said surface of the ground believed to contain said buried explosives for said visually detectable signal.

Claim 15

A method of detecting explosives buried beneath the surface of the ground, comprising the steps of:

1) spraying a biological sensor comprising a recombinant bacterial organism that responds to contact with said explosives by producing a detectable signal on the surface of the ground in an area believed to contain said buried explosives, wherein said surface of said ground is believed to be contaminated by vapors from said explosives, under conditions such that said biological sensor contacts the soil of said surface of said ground believed to contain the buried explosives;

2) allowing a sufficient time to pass to enable the biological sensor to react with explosive residue from said buried explosives in said soil to produce a visually detectable signal; and

3) examining said soil of said ground surface believed to contain said buried explosives for said visually detectable signal.

Claim 22

A method of detecting explosive residue in soil comprising the steps of:

a) providing:

    i) a biological sensor comprising a recombinant bacterial strain, and
    ii) a soil sample suspected of containing detectable levels of explosive residue; and

b) contacting said soil sample with said biological sensor under conditions such that a detectable signal is produced in the presence of said detectable levels of explosive residue.

Claim 29

A method of detecting explosive residue in soil comprising the steps of:

a) providing:

   i) a biological sensor comprising a recombinant bacterial strain, wherein said recombinant bacterial strain is selected from the group consisting of recombinant Pseudomonas, Escherichia and Bacillus, and
   ii) a soil sample suspected of containing detectable levels of explosive residue; and

b) contacting said soil sample with said biological sensor under conditions such that a detectable signal is produced in the presence of said detectable levels of explosive residue.

Claim 30

A biological sensor for detecting explosives comprising a recombinant bacterial strain that responds to contacting a chemical from an explosive by producing a detectable signal, wherein said recombinant bacterial strain is selected from the group consisting of recombinant Bacillus, Pseudomonas, and Escherichia coli.

Claim 35

A biological sensor for detecting explosives comprising a recombinant bacterial strain that responds to contacting a chemical from an explosive by producing a detectable signal, wherein

  • said recombinant bacterial strain is selected from the group consisting of recombinant Bacillus, Pseudomonas, and Escherichia coli, and wherein
  • said chemical from said explosive is selected from the group consisting of trinitrotoluene, hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine and octahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocine.

The claims are generally drawn towards:

  • a method of detecting explosives buried beneath the surface of the ground comprising use of a recombinant bacterial organism that responds to contact with the explosives by producing a detectable signal (claims 1 & 15)
  • a method of detecting explosive residue in soil comprising use of a recombinant bacterial strain (claim 22)
  • a method of detecting explosive residue in soil comprising use of a recombinant Pseudomonas, Escherichia or Bacillus strain (claim 29)
  • a biological sensor for detecting explosives comprising a recombinant bacterial strain that responds to contacting a chemical from an explosive by producing a detectable signal (claims 30 & 35)

Definitions extracted from the description (and ambiguous terms) are:

  • Biological sensor - a living cell that responds to a chemical from an explosive by producing a detectable signal
  • Recombinant (bacterial) organism - a strain of (bacterial) organisms comprising recombinant DNA
  • Detectable signal - a visual signal
  • Sufficeint time - duration is not specified
  • Examining (for the visually detectable signal) - method is not specified

Comment:

Independent claim 1 of granted US 5972638 limits the type of biosensor used in the method to detect explosives to recombinant bacterial organisms.  Therefore use of RedDetect transgenic Arabidopsis plants developed by Aresa Biodetection APS to detect explosives (see chapter 7 Biosensing systems - Patent applications filed and patent owned by Aresa Biodetection APS) will not infringe on US 5972638.

Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation

(Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ORNL)

P.O. BOX 2008
OAK RIDGE, TENNESSEE 37831

Ph +1-865-574-4160

ORNL has a technology transfer website:

http://www.ornl.gov/adm/tted/

FAQ directs technology transfer interests to Casey Porto (portoca@ornl.gov).

Search strategy

Search details

Date of search

03/05/2006

Database searched

Patent Lens

Type of search

Simple

Collections searched

AU-B, US-A, US-B, EP-B, WO

Search terms

Burlage in inventor

Results

7

Comments

Of the 7 results identified using these search terms, one result was identified as being of particular interest based on the full name of the inventor, abstract and a review of the claims.

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