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Venture Firm Funding Univ. Blood Diagnostics Technology

Blood sample

(Public Domain Pictures/Pixabay)

23 May 2016. A life sciences venture capital company is funding development of a technology at an Israeli research lab using DNA from blood tests to diagnose a range of diseases. Aurum Ventures is providing $1.2 million to Hebrew University of Jerusalem, through its technology transfer affiliate Yissum Research Development Company, for the university lab creating the technology.

The technology, being developed at Hebrew University’s Medical Research Institute, isolates circulating DNA in the blood resulting from natural cell death that occurs with illness or tissue damage. In addition, the process designed in the lab of research biologist Yuval Dor identifies changes in the DNA caused by methylation, where the chemical structure of DNA is altered by disease or injury. Dor’s research indicates that many conditions have unique, characteristic patterns of DNA methylation that act as signatures when found in blood samples.

Dor and colleagues published a proof-of-concept study in March 2016 that tests the technology with blood plasma or serum samples to detect 5 different types of illness or injuries. The team’s process isolates the circulating DNA, treats the DNA with sodium bisulfite, then amplifies with polymerase chain reactions and sequences the DNA to reveal the methylation pattern.

The results show the technology can identify circulating DNA biomarkers for dead pancreatic beta cells associated with type 1 diabetes, myelinating cells of the central nervous system linked to multiple sclerosis, and neuron or glial brain cells associated with traumatic brain injury or cardiac arrest. The researchers also use the process to identify dead cells in the pancreas linked to pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer.

Aurum Ventures, in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, is a venture capital enterprise founded by entrepreneur and media/telecommunications executive Morris Kahn. The company invests in Israeli life sciences, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies at all stages.

Yissum Research Development Company expects to discuss the circulating DNA technology at the IATI-BIOMED 2016 Conference, held this week in Tel Aviv.

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