Recombinant Protein for Rare Earth Element Binding


Executive Summary
Rare earth elements (REEs) are essential materials used in advanced technologies such as electronics, process catalysts, magnets, batteries and MRI contrast agents. Although used in small quantities for each application, they end up in surface water and soil during mining, processing and waste disposal. This presents growing environmental concerns such as bioaccumulation in plants and animals and increasing levels in fresh and drinking water supplies. MSU researchers have developed a new bio-based technology that selectively binds to REEs, permitting them to be sequestered, removed and recycled as needed.
Description of Technology
This invention is recombinant protein, coined GLAMOUR, that possesses both a REE binding and fluorescent domain. GLAMOUR can bind to a variety of lanthanides. Upon exposure to light, bound GLAMOUR emits green light and allows the detection of the bound REE.
  • Binds to a variety of rare earth elements
  • Small activation and relaxation times lead to essentially instantaneous detection times
  • Can detect very low levels of REEs (some experiments as low as 100 nanomolar)
  • Portable onsite detection of REEs. Simple detection upon light (camera, flashlight, etc.) exposure


  • Detection of trace amounts of REE's in the environment (water, soil, etc.)
  • Removal and recovery of gadolinium from excreted medical contrast agent waste
  • Treatment of REE mining and process waste
  • Recycling of rare earth elements
Patent Status
Patent pending
Licensing Rights
Full licensing rights available
BioRxiv article "A Novel Protein for the Bioremediation of Gadolinium Waste", 2023
Dr. Assaf Gilad, Harvey Lee, Conner Grady
Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Jon Debling
Technology Manager
Michigan State University