05-027: Electrocapturing Pathogens from Flow

Researchers at George Mason University have developed a novel and inexpensive device for capturing charged organisms, such as viruses for the purpose of imaging and detecting the organisms.

Description:
The device is an easy to assemble (and disassemble) cell that uses an electric field to concentrate electrically charged organisms or biological macromolecules. Specifically, an electric field is used to attract ana1ytes to a semi-permeable membrane and adhere them on its surface. Once captured, the organisms can be imaged or detected through various assay methods. In addition, the researcher can watch this process through a window in the electrode chamber.

The described method is more effective than common direct active capturing methods. With direct capturing methods, pathogens often land between spots or on spots coated with non-specific antibodies and therefore do not bind to the array. These pathogens are then are lost upon subsequent washing. Combination of flow and electric field makes every pathogen to slide or roll over the array surface until it finds its specific spot. Each pathogen tracking the entire array surface is ultimately bound because the solution is recycled.

Possible Products:

1. A device for pre-concentration of viruses, phages, E. coli and other microorganisms in waste water.
2. Microarray-based device for rapid detection of pathogens.
3. A device for preparation of specimens for electron and atomic force microscopy.
4. A device for separation of cells according to the antigenic determinants on their surface.

Market Significance:

The above described technology would benefit numerous types of organizations involved in manufacturing of devices for bio-medica1 research, has well as laboratories involved in the development of tools for clinical diagnostics. Target industries for this invention also include government agencies, defense subcontractors, and private industry involved in the areas of biodefense and public health.

Advantages:
- More efficient capturing of ana1ytes than in other methods.
- The unit is simply designed and inexpensive.
- Enables the direct monitoring of the capture progress.
- When used in combination with antibody microarrays, provides a rapid analysis for trace amounts of pathogens.
- When used in combination with an aerosol collector, can provide rapid detection of the presence of pathogens in the environment.