The University of Kansas (KU) developing rapid next-generation tests for human ailments such as cancer and COVID-19, recently received $6.6 million in continued funding over the next 5 years from NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).
KU’s Center of BioModular Multi-Scale Systems for Precision Medicine (CBM2) uses plastic chips made of the same material as a compact disc and transforms the chips to detect hard-to-diagnose human diseases using saliva or blood from a patients.
The liquid biopsies can detect circulating tumor cells, cell free DNA, viruses and vesicles that are released by biological cells associated with a particular disease.
Much of the work of CBM2 takes place in collaboration with partners that includes KU Medical Center (KUMC), Andrew Godwin, CBM2 Co-Director, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Dr. David Kaufman, CBM2 Co-Director, Louisiana State University, Professors, Sunggook Park and Michael C. Murphey, and Wake Forest School of Medicine Professor Adam Hall.
For example in one project, researchers are developing a handheld instrument to spot viruses giving rise to COVID-19 that will be able to detect ovarian cancer early in women with a high family risk. This cancer detection method uses a few blood drops placed on a plastic chip created by the Center to look for very small vesicles which can indicate early stages of cancer.
KUMC’s CBM2 is also working on clinical trials at the KU Cancer Center to evaluate new therapeutics for pancreatic cancer which accounts for 7% of cancer deaths across the U.S. The circulating tumor cells are secured from a blood sample using a plastic microchip.
In another research effort, CBM2 is developing a new nanotechnology platform for sequencing RNA and DNA to detect changes to the RNA genome of viruses that give rise to variants, such those variants associated with COVID-19.
In research at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City, researchers are using small vesicles as markers for a point of care test for diagnosing ischemic stroke. This test can be completed in about 30 minutes to help decide how best to treat patient with stroke.
The medical advances developed at CBM2 already are helping patients through commercial partnerships with private firms such as BioFluidica based in San Diego which markets instruments for the isolation and analysis of liquid biopsy markers.