Detect Pathogens before they spread

     Stop losses
        and Payouts

Automatically test for specific pathogens in water, food and liquefied solids any time you want using an inline pathogen sensor


           A NASA Spin-off


 No Technician, No BioSafety Lab, No Tags, No PCR, No Optical Equipment


Pathogen Sensor (Limited Release Beta Version) 
Early Warning Inc is a spin-off from NASAs Ames Research Center. Early Warning has developed a Pathogen Sensor that automatically detects pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites without a biosafety laboratory or technician, and distinguishes infectious pathogens from harmless microorganisms. The sensor will enable end users to test water, food and people without a laboratory, shorten the test cycle to 3 hours from 2 to 14 days, and reduce the cost per test by 70% to 90%. The Pathogen Sensor employs a multiplexing DNA electrochemical biosensor and a pathogen concentrating device that automatically samples, concentrates and electronically transmits test results. The Pathogen Sensor can be used for Industrial, Municipal Water, Point-of-Use, and Security applications.

Automated Sampling and Detection in 3 Hours

Early Warnings pathogen sensor automatically measures the presence and concentration of a suite of pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites in the same test. This allows water, food and liquefied solids to be sampled and tested any time without a Biosafety laboratory or technician. The pathogen sensor shortens the test cycle from 2 -14 days down to 3 hours, and reduces the cost per test by 70% to 90%. Test results are sent electronically through wireless or wired communications to designated people, devices or websites. The system sanitizes itself after use and is ready for a new sample within 2 hours. The pathogen sensor achieves unprecedented performance for:

 Sensitivity - The pathogen sensor generates positive signals from 1 cell per 100 ml sample without PCR or amplification. This is achieved by detecting RNA instead of cells (as there are 20,000 RNA per cell), and processing 10 Liters of sample instead of 100 mLs (to provide 100 times more cells per sample). As a result, over 1 million targets are delivered to the biosensor from a 1 cell per 100 ml sample equivalent. Lower concentrations are possible with bigger sample sizes beyond 10 L which can be automatically sampled and concentrated in the field.

 Specificity Using highly specific DNA probes that only bind with RNA from the target pathogens. Interfering materials are flushed away before detection by extracting target pathogens with antibodies attached to magnetic beads. A preparation recipe can be fine-tuned to the specific input conditions.

 Multiplexing Where the sensor is pre-fabricated with a standard suite of DNA probes (e.g. such as Indicator E.coli, E.coli O157:H7, Salmonella, etc.) attached to individual electrodes so that one electrode can measure E.coli O157:H7 and a second electrode can measure Salmonella. Standard tests are prepackaged and custom probes can be added.

The pathogen sensor employs a pathogen concentrating device and single-use biosensor chips, which are packaged in a replaceable cartridge. The pathogen sensor work as follows:  
Pathogen Concentrating Device 
which automatically samples water or liquids, and prepares RNA of target pathogens for detection on the biosensor chip. 
Auto Sampling: The concentrator connects to a pipe and collects a 10 Liter liquid sample. 10 Liters are used to increase the likelihood of capturing pathogens which could be missed in a smaller 100 mL grab sample.

Ultrafiltration: The sample is re-circulated through an ultrafiltration filter to remove clean water and retain microorganisms in a highly concentrated retentate.

Magnetic Bead Separation: The retentate is exposed to magnetic beads covered with antibodies of the target pathogens to be detected. A magnetic circuit separates illness-causing pathogens from harmless microorganisms.

RNA Extraction: Pathogens attached to the magnetic beads are further processed by microfluidics to extract RNA from target pathogens using cell lysis and bead filtration.
Biosensor Chip
A multiplexing DNA electrochemical biosensor that generates electrical signals in proportion to the concentration of individual target pathogens. Single use biochips are packaged in a replacement cartridge.
Hybridization: RNA strands are delivered to highly specific DNA probes attached to individually designated electrodes. Each electrode is pre-fabricated with DNA probes from a specific pathogen, such as E.coli O157:H7. Detection can be made when RNA from the sample hybridize with complementary DNA probes.

Electrochemical Detection: Voltammetry scans are applied on each electrode and only the electrodes where hybridization takes place cause guanine to oxidize and subsequently generate electrical current. The peak of the current is measured against background noise to determine if the electrodes pathogen is present, and against currents from known samples to determine the concentration of the electrodes pathogen. This is done simultaneously for each electrode to measure the presence and concentration of multiple pathogens in the sample.

Transmit Test Results: Test results are electronically transmitted through wired or wireless communications to designated people, devices or websites. Once done, the system sanitizes itself with the collected filtered water and disinfectant before the next test.
Applications for Early Adopters

The pathogen sensor is designed for diverse Industrial, Municipal Water, Point-of-Use, and Security applications.

Sample Applications


Food and Beverage Manufacturing    

 Beverage Companies
 Meat, Poultry, Fish Plants
 Grain products
 Fruit & Vegetables

Bacteria-sensitive Industrial Manufacturing

 Medical and Pharmaceutical
 Waste Management   
 Chemical & Biofuels
 Pulp and Paper
 Biosecurity and safe feed water for livestock, slaughterhouses, dairy products, and food and beverage plants
 Irrigation and crop processing employing contaminated source or recycled water
 Continuous water monitoring for aquaculture, fisheries and marine preservation
 Discharge from food processing facilities
 Automated sampling throughout the food production and distribution system
 Control loop for sanitation equipment effectiveness such as monitoring UV dose and energy use based on pathogen type before UV and pathogen viability after UV
 Discharge from processing facilities
 Bacteria in cooling towers

Point of Use


 Food Services & Restaurants
 Entertainment Venues
 Beaches and Campgrounds
 Transportation vehicles, Airlines, Cruise Ships
 Hotels and High end resorts
 VIPS, Celebrities & Diplomats

Residential & Commercial Buildings    

 Government Buildings
 Living Complexes
 Corporate Campuses 

Health Care    

 Medical Facilities
 Dental water supplies

 Testing water and food prior to consumer contact

 Beach operators posting water quality updates onsite and online within hours of sampling

 Hospitals and elderly care monitoring drinking and shower water to immuno-compromised, sick and elderly

 Transportation vessels, cruise ships, and airlines collecting under-treated drinking water at foreign destinations

 Institutional water consumers with large populations such as hotels, universities, multinationals, and government agencies

 Special protection for VIPs, celebrities, entertainers, diplomats and luxury resorts


Treatment Plants

 Drinking Water

Water Distribution

 Municipal Networks

Source Water

 Municipalities and wells

Recreational Water


 Rapid and remote field testing after a turbidity spike or suspicious event

 Contaminated source water downstream from farms, sewage treatment plant outfalls, stormwater and combined sewage overflow discharges, biotech industries, or wildlife

 Recycled water used for drinking

 Network infiltration from aging pipelines or sudden pressure drops

 Water security


Government Agencies    

 Healthcare Infection Control
 Food Inspection


 Water Infrastructure    
 Emergency Response

 Inline biosensor in CBRN systems

 Remote monitoring of water utilities in violation of regulations

 Rapid inspection of imported fruits and vegetables at border crossings before entry into the country

 Disaster relief

 Military theaters and remote bases

Last Updated:
31 Mar 2011

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