Introducing CANARY® – cutting edge pathogen detection

What is CANARY?

CANARY (Cellular Analysis and Notification of Antigen Risks and Yields) is a cell-based biosensor technology that delivers extremely rapid detection of pathogens at previously unseen levels of sensitivity and specificity.

Originally developed by scientists at MIT – Lincoln Laboratories to combat bioterrorism threats, the CANARY technology has been adapted by PathSensors for applications in Agriculture, Food Safety, Biodefense, and Mail Screening

Here’s How it Works

PathSensors has genetically engineered an immune cell, called a “Biosensor,” which can:

  • Identify and Bind to a specific target pathogen
  • Light up when the target pathogen is found

By measuring light output from the cell, we can tell if the target pathogen is present in the sample.

CANARY technology explanation

Take a look at our building a biosensor animation to learn more about CANARY’s applications: 

Why is CANARY Better?

Let’s start by understanding the technologies currently available on the market:


Considered the “Gold Standard,” this method puts a sample in a petri dish and waits for the pathogen to grow.

It is extremely sensitive, but requires several days to get results, which isn’t ideal if you’re trying to prevent recalls or biothreat outbreaks.


One of the most commonly used methods, PCR looks at the DNA of a sample to tell if a pathogen is present. It is quite sensitive, but requires hours and technical expertise to extract the DNA for testing.

Lateral Flow

Think of a pregnancy test. This method is rapid, simple, and inexpensive, but sacrifices sensitivity. False readings occur with high frequency. 


CANARY combines the sensitivity of PCR with the speed of Lateral Flow, allowing users to accurately test for minute amounts of pathogen in minutes, not days. The method requires very few materials, little labor time, and minimal scientific expertise. Laboratory experience not required!

Benefits of CANARY

CANARY is fast, sensitive, and easy to use, always keeping you one step ahead of an outbreak.


It all has to do with the genetically modified immune cell – the Biosensor. If a pathogen is present, it only takes seconds for the Biosensor to bind and light up, giving you final results in under 5 minutes.


Imagine the Biosensor as a cell covered light bulb with a switch. With other technologies, when a single pathogen is present the switch turns on one light bulb. With CANARY, the switch turns on all the light bulbs. This amplification of signal makes CANARY incredibly sensitive and accurate.

Ease of Use

  • No complicated extractions.
  • No waiting for bacteria to grow on a plate.
  • No long list of required buffers and materials. Minimal scientific expertise needed. Once your sample is prepared, tests can be run in 3-5 minutes. Our software algorithm automatically interprets the data for you, giving you the timely results you need in plain English. 

CANARY in the Field

CANARY is currently deployed for applications in Biodefense, Food Safety, Agriculture and Emerging disease. Here’s how CANARY can help you:

Get In Touch

701 E Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Phone: 443.557.6150


About PathSensors

At PathSensors we are committed to making the world a safer place. We are always excited to tackle new challenges, so please contact us to discuss collaborations or development projects.