Protecting the ISS crew from microbial contaminants is of great importance. Bacterial and fungal contamination of air, surfaces and water aboard ISS has the potential to cause sickness among ISS crew and to impact onboard experiments. Further, as noted by Yamaguchi et al., crewed habitats in space can significantly alter the relationships between humans and microbes, including increasing the pathogenicity and virulence of microbes. The possible high penalty of sickness while aboard the ISS creates a significant need for a rapid way to determine when microbial contamination events occur. To this end, InnovaPrep proposes development of improved methods for collection of microbes from air and surfaces for delivery into a small liquid volume compatible with advanced molecular based detection systems. In 2015, InnovaPrep was awarded a Phase I SBIR for development of a microbial concentration system for ISS potable water and, after what by most measures was a successful Phase I project, is currently awaiting word on a potential Phase II award. This system is based on membrane filtration of water samples and Wet Foam Elution of the captured particles. This method was developed by InnovaPrep as a means for efficiently eluting microbial particles from large membrane filters and quickly led InnovaPrep to apply this technique to elution of microbes from aerosol collection filters and swabs, wipes and other surface sampling instruments with significant success.
InnovaPrep has applied this wet foam elution technique to elution of microbes from aerosol collection filters and swabs, wipes and other surface sampling instruments with significant success. Specifically, with regard to aerosol collection, the company has developed a family of aerosol collectors that utilize electret filter collection and wet foam elution, called the Bobcat, has quickly become the go to collector for ongoing Department of Defense (DoD) biodefense detection programs. An integratable version of the Bobcat is the selected collector for the DoD Joint Biological Tactical Detection System program and is also being used in several configurations by three of the large scale integrators on the ongoing DoD Joint United States Forces Korea Portal and Integrated Threat Recognition (JUPITR) program. Further, the underlying technology was also recently selected for award under the Department of Homeland Security SenseNet program as part of a team selected to develop an autonomously operated bioterrorism detection system. InnovaPrep is also in discussions with multiple commercial partners about the potential of developing a very low cost collector based on these same technologies that would be used for microbial monitoring in the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries.In the area of surface collection, InnovaPrep has more recently engaged in development of a range of surface collection devices for Animal Health, DoD and Food Safety.