Technology Transfer SSC Pacific
Technique for Orienting and Binding Phage for Bacteria Detection

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Orients phage head down onto the surface of a substrate, exposing their tail ends for binding to host bacteria.

The U.S. Navy seeks to commercialize U.S. Patent 7,632,637 (Technique for orienting and binding phage for bacteria detection)


Bacteriophages (phage) have the ability to identify their hosts through specific receptors located on the outside of the host cell, making it possible to detect specific bacterial strains. They are widely available, have a large library database, are very robust to temperature, pH, and ionic strength, and can be coupled to a variety of surfaces making them an ideal bacteria sensor. Bacterial bonding occurs at the tail ends of the phage; however, traditional techniques do not adequately address this bonding specificity or orient the phage accordingly. As a result, binding of the phage onto a surface (e.g., optical fibers, glass, polymers) , which naturally occurs at the tail end of the phage, essentially blocks the recognition elements present in these tail fibers for bacterial bonding and detection

The Technology

SSC Pacific has developed a novel technique for orienting and binding phage head down onto a surface, improving bond adhesion and consistency. A DNA/RNA stain is bound to a long chained amine group. The DNA/RNA stain is used to orient the phage head-down. A silanated amine and dialdehyde are then added to create an activated primary amine that locks the head-down-oriented  phage in place. This creates a strong bond between the surface and head region of the phage, allowing the tail ends to be exposed and increasing the surface area for bonding to the bacteria host. An alkyl-amine compound is then added to deactivate any remaining amine groups reducing undesirable bonding to other proteins. Applications include areas where the detection of specific bacterial strains are needed, such as scientific research, wastewater treatment, medical (e.g., bacterial infections), dentistry, veterinary science, and agriculture.

Key Benefits

  • Orients phage head down onto substrate exposing tail ends
  • Increases the detection of host bacteria
  • Development Status

  • U.S. Patent issued: 7,632,637
  • Total R&D: $450K and 3 years
  • DoD 5000 Series Technical Readiness Level 4: Component validation in laboratory environment 
  • For more information on technology transfer, please contact us at (619) 5535118 or email
    SD 971, July 2011. SSC Pacific, San Diego, CA 921525001.  Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

    SSC Pacific
    Updated: 10/25/2011 10:46 AM EST   Published