National Research Council of Canada. Medical Devices
Infections caused by foodborne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes pose a threat to public health while timely detection is challenging due to pathogen low numbers. The development of robust and efficient sample preparation techniques is crucial to improve detection sensitivity and workflow. Immunomagnetic separation using magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) is attractive, as it can efficiently capture target cells. For food safety applications, a platform is needed to rapidly process large sample volumes, allowing capture and release of target bacteria conjugated to immunomagnetic nanoparticles (IMNPs). Herein, we demonstrate a method for magnetic capture and release of bacteria-IMNPs complex based on a 3D magnetic trap integrated on a polymeric microfluidic device. The 3D magnetic capture region consist of a dense array of high-aspect ratio (3 : 1) cylindrical pillars embossed in thermoplastic polymer and coated with soft ferromagnetic nickel by an electroless deposition technique. This allows the generation of strong and switchable magnetic capture regions due to the very low remanence of the nickel shell. We propose and validate an optimized configuration of capture regions for efficient localized capture and rapid release of MNPs and IMNPs conjugated to L. monocytogenes. A maximum recovery rate for MNPs corresponded to 91% while a maximum capture efficiency of 30% was obtained for live bacteria, with a minimum detectable sample concentration of ~10 cfu ml−1 in 1 ml volume using plate-culture method. We believe that the flexible design and low-cost fabrication process of the proposed system will allow rapid sample preparation for applications beyond food and water safety, including point-of-care diagnosis.