Magnetic Nanoparticles, Magnetically Activated Cell Enrichment, and Biosensing


Executive Summary

Harmful microbes are present in a variety of sources including water, food, plants, environment, and through human-to-human transmission. The ability to detect them rapidly at low cost is important to protecting the health and safety of humans and animals and the security of food chains. MSU researchers have developed novel magnetic nanoparticles for quickly extracting pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes) from a variety of complex matrices. This allows enhancing the sensitivity of biosensors and other diagnostics for rapid detection of these pathogens. .


Description of Technology

This technology covers a suite of inventions relating to magnetic nanoparticles, magnetically activated cell enrichment (a.k.a. MACE), a one pot method of making the magnetic nanoparticles, and their use. The particles are based on the synthesis of magnetic Fe3O4 nanoparticles covalently coated with glycoconjugates. Examples of glycoconjugates include chitosan, N-acetylglucosamine, cysteine, glycine, mannose, galactose, carboxyl groups, and other glycoproteins, carbohydrates, and their conjugates. Upon mixing with the media containing the target analyte, the glyco-magnetic NPs bind to the microbes which can be selectively separated with a magnet to concentrate them. The concentrated nanoparticle-microbes can then be viewed under a microscope. Identification of specific microbes is done through staining, morphological characterization, or surface charge..  



  • Simple method of extracting, concentrating, and detecting bacteria, viruses, and fungi present in a sample
  • Can be used on multiple media such as sputum, urine, blood, water, food
  • Eliminates pre-enrichment, purification, pre-treatment steps
  • Facilitates rapid detection. Improves diagnostic speed in less than one hour
  • Inexpensive isolation and test method



  • Disease and health monitoring
  • Food pathogen detection and monitoring of food quality
  • Environmental water monitoring
  • Agricultural disease detection (crops, plants, farm animal product and health)


Patent Status

Published US application US 2021/0164970 A1


Licensing Rights

Licensing rights available with field of use restrictions



Journal of Food protection article

Biosensors article



Dr. Evangelyn Alocilja



TEC2015-0020, TEC2015-0042, TEC2015-0068


Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Jon Debling
Technology Manager
Michigan State University
Evangelyn Alocilja