Monitoring Public Water Supply for a Variety of Pathogens

The simultaneous concentration and recovery of microbes in drinking water is important for responding to potential water-related events such as pathogen contamination or bioterrorism and could be a cost-effective technique for routine monitoring of drinking water quality. Scientists at the CDC have combined two techniques, ultrafiltration (UF) and insulator-based dielectrophoresis (iDEP) in series, to achieve significant concentration of microbes and pathogens for analysis. UF can concentrate a water sample ≥200X, depending on turbidity; if a secondary concentration step is applied, then a ≥25,000X can be achieved. Research has shown that UF can be an effective technique for simultaneously concentrating viruses, bacteria, and parasites in larger samples of drinking water. A second technique, the iDEP system, is known to be capable of capturing, concentrating, and separating microbes in very small water samples. The combination of UF with iDEP holds potential promise for allowing water utilities and associated industries to accurately detect low levels of pathogens in drinking water samples. This technology has the capability to separate live from non-viable microbes, thereby decreasing the chances of generating false-positive PCR results due to the presence of free nucleic acid or non-viable microbes.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • Monitoring of municipal, commercial, public, and individual water supplies for drinking water quality
  • Monitoring source water, industrial effluent, hospital discharge, and military water infrastructures for pathogens
  • Assessing water in agricultural settings
  • Monitoring water quality in pools and other recreational settings
  • A rapid method for detecting the presence of a variety of microbes such as Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts and Enterococcus faecalis
  • Uses a combination of ultrafiltration and dielectrophoretic separation techniques versus available single method technology
  • Ability to separate live from non-viable microbes, thereby decreasing the chances of generating false-positive PCR results due to the presence of naked nucleic acid or non-viable microbes
  • Accurately assess low levels of pathogens in finished drinking water samples, whether due to natural or intentional contamination

Related Invention(s):


Vincent Hill (CDC)  ➽ more inventions...

Blake Simmons

Yolanda Fintschenko

Eric Cummings

Intellectual Property:
U.S. Pat: 8,257,568 issued 2012-09-04
U.S. Pat: 7,811,439 issued 2010-10-12
US Application No. 60/705,933

Hill VR, et al. PMID 16269722
Hill VR, et al. PMID 17483281

Collaboration Opportunity:

The CDC Technology Transfer Office (TTO) is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize a system to monitor water supplies for a variety of pathogens. For collaboration opportunities, please contact CDC TTO at or 1-404-639-1330.

Licensing Contact:
Jeremiah Mitzelfelt,
Phone: 301-443-8518

OTT Reference No: E-458-2013-0
Updated: Mar 9, 2020