AOAC’s Stakeholder Panel on Agent Detection Assays (SPADA) is focused on developing the biothreat agent detection standards needed by government agencies and first response bodies.

AOAC INTERNATIONAL has been involved in the field of biothreat agent detection for over 15 years, evaluating and creating more than 20 standards in support of biothreat agent detection. This body of work includes standard method performance requirements, sampling standards, and method validation guidance.

In 2007, SPADA was formed and today includes many of the world’s foremost biothreat detection experts. The SPADA partnership includes scientists from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Health and Human Services, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and others.

Scope and objectives

SPADA’s unique mission is to bring together expert stakeholders from across the biothreat community to create guidance for a comprehensive and uniform approach to scientific analysis and detection of biothreat agents.

Working groups

The SPADA active working group effort is sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Undersecretary of the Army – Test & Evaluation (DUSA T&E); the U.S. Joint Program Executive Office Joint Program Manager – Guardian Defense Biological Product Assurance Office (JPM-Guardian DBPAO); and Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory.

In Silico Analysis Working Group

The SPADA Working Group on in silico PCR Analysis is drafting standard procedures for the use of in silico PCR analysis, to build confidence that analysts in different laboratories will achieve equivalent results.

Bacteria Strain Verification Working Group

Assay developers or evaluators often discover that a bacterial culture is not the expected species or strain. There is currently no consensus on the process to authenticate bacterial strain. The SPADA Bacterial Strain Verification Working Group is developing guidelines for the characterization and authentication of bacterial strains.

Soil Testing Working Group

When deploying assays in the field to protect warfighters deployed in global war zones, it is critical to have a standard for evaluating how different soils affect inhibition, interference, and cross-reactivity of the assay. The SPADA Working Group on Soil Testing Samples is drafting standard procedures for preparation and characterization of soils, and the use of soil samples to evaluate candidate biothreat detection assays.