B-LiFE - Biological Light Fieldable Laboratory for Emergencies

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The B-LiFE project is focused on delivering services for field analysis of biological threats and emergencies using a Light Fieldable Laboratory System.

The Light Fieldable Laboratory System is a lightweight, mobile, autonomous analytical system endowed with communication capabilities that is able to be deployed very quickly as close as possible to the geographical area where a health crisis has emerged either as a consequence of a disease outbreak or an environmental crisis. The aim of this light fieldable analytical structure is to provide laboratory analysis services to characterize biological, chemical and/or radiological threats.

The project aims to complement the light fieldable laboratory module with space technologies and functions including satellite telecommunications, satellite navigation and Earth observation in order to provide rapid field operational capabilities.

The objective of the feasibility study is to assess the technical feasibility and the commercial viability of fast responding medical diagnose services for emergencies and life-threatening bio threats by integrating a mobile biotechnology laboratory technology with satellite telecommunications, satellite navigation and remote sensing for emergencies and life-threatening bio threats.

As seen in recent years, the successful management of sanitary crises such as CRBN (Chemical, Radiological, Biological, and Nuclear) threats, life threatening emerging diseases, outbreaks in remote areas, rely on the ability to perform rapid and reliable detection and identification of pathogens, e.g. anthrax cases in US in 2001 or the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in Ontario.

For a fast response, the B-LiFE service objective is to bring the diagnostic capacity as close as possible to the crisis area. This can be achieved by deploying a light fieldable laboratory capacity. As a result, potentially dangerous samples collected in the field do not have to be transported to distant conventional, fixed-site, reference laboratories.

For the optimal interaction with the global crisis management system at distant and local levels, all relevant information: medical, epidemiological, biological, etc. must be delivered in a timely manner, safely and securely by an autonomous and robust satellite communication service. Earth observation data delivers information regarding the area surrounding the contaminated zone such as topography, accessibility, existing infrastructures, population density and weather forecast. These are critical information for selecting the site for lab deployment and further monitoring. In the course of the crisis, this information will contribute to a better analysis and evaluation of the global impact and management of the crisis.

B-LiFE Objectives

Users and their needs

B-LiFE aims to service a broad array of potential users.

Target users include institutions such as foreign affairs departments, cooperation offices, local governments or health or defense ministries; European and international institutions; crisis management agencies at local and international level; NGOs that are lacking the appropriate laboratory capacity for disease detection and identification.

Other potential users of B-LiFE look to improve their field diagnostic capacity, for example, pharmaceutical companies, food manufacturers or companies having a need for medical diagnostic capacities in remote areas, like oil and mining companies. Local users as part of cooperation and development missions look to provide on-site lab training to local users.

Scope Type Service
Public Health Special Pathogen The special pathogens service would provide analytical support in cases highly specialized and trained personnel are required to face difficult diagnosis of highly pathogenic viruses or bacteria with an epidemic potential.
Case Management Support for differential diagnosis, monitor evolution of the infection, and provide accurate identification and (if needed) provide antibiotic resistance tests.
Intervention Study Support for a field-study or clinical trials. Provide the expertise in analytical know how, in the logistics of the lab and conduct analytical tests.

 

Scope Type Service
Security Protection of High Value Target Provide rapid identification of suspicious materials
Response to CBRN The typical missions would be ad-hoc, short term
Food Security Testing food products or food production chain in remote farms f.e.

 

Service/ system concept

How does B-LiFE operate?

  • The B-LiFE field deployable laboratory is a single platform, technology driven, for rapid identification of multiple biological agents.
  • The B-LiFE service can be mobilized in a few hours for deployment anywhere in the world.
  • Once in the field, the mobile laboratory can be deployed in a matter of hours to run the first tests.
  • Proven expertise of the staff in operating a laboratory of this kind.
  • Integration of a comprehensive communication system allowing the staff to share information and gather data with the central coordination office, with external laboratories, users or stakeholders at a local and international level.
  • High level of integration of system and components, including sampling, data, map analysis, IT components, geo-localization, the tests processed, the results and reports and the training.

Space Added Value

The integration of several space based technologies are critical to provide rapid field operational capabilities:

  • Satellite communications are required for the communications between the field teams and the command and control centre(s).
  • Earth observation imagery provides geographical information and maps of the crisis area.
  • Meteorological and weather forecasts need to be provided in order to support the forecast of disease spreading, the stability of medicines and the protection of the equipment in use.
  • Satellite navigation is used for georeferencing samples as well as for the tracking and tracing of the medical/biological and sampling staff and assets.

Product Benefits

  • The B-LiFE service is developed in synergy with end users according to their needs and requirements, depending on the type of crisis or situation to assist.
  • The use of a single field deployable platform for identification of pathogenic agents and the integration of space assets (satellite telecommunications, Earth observation for site selection and monitoring and GNSS for tracking of samples, equipment and personnel) contributes to the improvement of the responsiveness and the cost efficiency of the B-LiFE service.
  • The B-LiFE service can be quickly deployed to respond to an outbreak of a highly pathogenic agent in remote areas, anywhere in the world.
  • The communication system deployed in the field allows all staff members to be permanently and globally connected to each other, to other laboratories and coordination offices and to users and stakeholders.
  • The deployment of the mobile laboratory in low income countries provides support for training and education and for restoration of a basic laboratory capacity.
  • The B-LiFE service can be adapted to the users' procedures and requirements (i.e. forensics and sampling procedures) and for the training of end users.

Product Features

B-LIFE services suits the different concepts of operations that have been identified. The system architecture of B-LiFE is defined by the services requested to fulfil the requirements and needs of the different users. The system architecture addresses many aspects such as personnel, logistics and mobile laboratory capacities, satellite communications, GNSS and site selection and monitoring tools.

The B-LIFE Service Process Flow governs the selection of services that B-LIFE can provide to end users.

  • When a crisis is happening, the user of service sends a service request.
  • The service request is processed by the service selection.
  • The service selection is coordinated by the B-LiFE operational structure and integrates:
    • The agreements with users and stakeholders defining the type of missions for which the B-LiFE service can be provided and the funding for missions,
    • The user requirements, which are regularly updated,
    • The service definition for the scenarios of B-LiFE missions.
  • When a mission is accepted, the service is triggered and the system and components of the service are selected.
  • The system and components selection integrates:
    • The procedures and service level agreements (SLA),
    • The architecture, the technologies and the components of the service,
    • The operation functions.
  • The planning of the mission defines the system and components to be deployed.
  • The mission is deployed at the crisis area.
  • An adaptive monitoring of service, including a validation plan for the mission, is providing feedback from the crisis situation, for reporting to the user and to optimize the service selection.

B-Life Features

Key Issues

The key issues that B-LiFE aims to tackle are:

  • To deliver services for the field analysis of biological threats and emergencies using a light fieldable laboratory system that is able to be quickly deployed inside and outside of Europe.
  • To enable sample collection in the field, sample inactivation and decontamination.
  • To enable genomics and proteomics identification of a very wide spectrum of biological agents.
  • To foresee the possible integration of chemical and radiological identification capacity.
  • To define a satellite telecommunication system enabling the mobile laboratory to be part of a well-structured and layered process, integrating direct telecommunication links between local and distant command and control centres and the mobile lab team.
  • To integrate space technologies (GNSS and Earth observation) in support of mission deployment.
  • To integrate new technology developments into a coherent and operational system.
  • To achieve a smooth integration with any CRBN mobile capacity within existing EU initiatives and capacities.
  • To get benefit from existing international expertise in rapid operational deployment of analytical capacities.

Current Status

The feasibility study has now completed the assessment of the definition and the viability of the B-LiFE services. The following tasks as part of the feasibility study have been performed:

  • Definition of a set of critical, realistic scenarios and missions for which a mobile deployable CRBN capacity, integrating the space assets, is of added value and justified, in accordance with the views of end users and stakeholders.
  • Assessment of the service requirements related to satellite telecommunication aspects.
  • Assessment of the requirements for site selection and monitoring.
  • State of the art and gap analysis for the different aspects of systems and technologies of the B-LiFE platform.
  • Definition of services and supporting system architecture, concept of operations and capacity, including personnel and logistics requirements.
  • The proof of concept of the deployment of a realistically simulated mission has been successfully demonstrated.
  • Analysis of the viability and sustainability of the future system and its associated services.
  • The roadmap for the full implementation of the B-LiFE system and its associated services is under development as well as the relevant inputs for the preparation of the demonstration phase of the project.

Partner Contacts

Roland Gueubel
Project Manager
Université catholique de Louvain - CTMA
Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs, 30
B-1200 Brussels
Belgium
Email: roland.gueubel@gmail.com
Tel: +32 498 49 71 26

Professor Jean-Luc Gala
Project Coordinator
Université catholique de Louvain - CTMA
Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs, 30
B-1200 Brussels
Belgium
Email: jean-luc.gala@uclouvain.be
Tel: +32(2)764 31 65
Fax: +32(2) 764 3166

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Roland Gueubel
Université catholique de Louvain - CTMA
Clos Chapelle-aux-Champs, 30
B-1200 Brussels
Belgium
+32 498 49 71 26

ESA Project Manager

Cesar Baston Canosa
Keplerlaan 1
2200 AG Noordwijk ZH
Netherlands

Status Date

Updated: 29 April 2015 - Created: 15 February 2014