Critical Offset Magnetic PArticle SpectroScopy for rapid and highly sensitive medical point-of-care diagnostics

Nat Commun. 2022 Nov 24;13(1):7230. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-34941-y.


Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) have been adapted for many applications, e.g., bioassays for the detection of biomarkers such as antibodies, by controlled engineering of specific surface properties. Specific measurement of such binding states is of high interest but currently limited to highly sensitive techniques such as ELISA or flow cytometry, which are relatively inflexible, difficult to handle, expensive and time-consuming. Here we report a method named COMPASS (Critical-Offset-Magnetic-Particle-SpectroScopy), which is based on a critical offset magnetic field, enabling sensitive detection to minimal changes in mobility of MNP ensembles, e.g., resulting from SARS-CoV-2 antibodies binding to the S antigen on the surface of functionalized MNPs. With a sensitivity of 0.33 fmole/50 µl (≙7 pM) for SARS-CoV-2-S1 antibodies, measured with a low-cost portable COMPASS device, the proposed technique is competitive with respect to sensitivity while providing flexibility, robustness, and a measurement time of seconds per sample. In addition, initial results with blood serum demonstrate high specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Phenomena
  • Magnetite Nanoparticles* / chemistry
  • Point-of-Care Testing
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Spectrum Analysis


  • Magnetite Nanoparticles
  • Antibodies, Viral