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Patent Awarded for Early, Pre-Symptom Cancer Tests

Stefan Bossmann and Deryl Troyer

Stefan Bossmann, left, and Deryl Troyer (Kansas State University)

16 June 2015. Three researchers at Kansas State University in Manhattan received a patent for an early-stage test that the inventors say can diagnose some solid tumor cancers well before symptoms develop. Kansas State chemistry professor Stefan Bossmann and anatomy-physiology professor Deryl Troyer, with postdoctoral fellow Matthew Basel, received U.S. patent number 8,969,027 in March 2015 for their technology, and assigned to the university as the patent’s owner.

The test measures activity of proteases, a type of enzyme that acts as a catalyst to break down long chemical protein chains into smaller peptides. The test seeks to detect unique patterns of proteases in blood that act as signatures of various solid tumor cancers, often in their earliest stages before much tumor growth or spreading to other parts of the body. The inventors say the test returns results in about 30 minutes, with a 95 percent success rate at detecting solid tumor cancers in early stages or later.

The test separates serum from blood, the component of blood without the clotting factors, which are tested with nanoscale particles having a metallic core and shell. The patent claims a range of metals for the composition of the particles, although many of the tests conducted by the inventors use iron.

The particles are coated with amino acids that react to the enzymes and fluorescent dye that illuminates if the particles detect proteases indicating forms of cancer. The patent also claims the use of quantum dots as part of the technology, nanoscale semiconductor crystals having, among other properties, photo-electric effects.

Bossmann and Troyer tested the technology first with small numbers of healthy volunteers and individuals diagnosed with solid tumor cancer at various stages, and later with larger groups. The inventors are currently testing the diagnostics in a double-blind clinical trial at Kunming Medical University in China. Earlier protease measurements at Kunming revealed unique enzyme signatures for prostate, ovarian, liver (hepatoma), gall bladder, uterine (endometrial and fibroid), breast, cervical, colorectal, bladder, and non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of lung cancer.

“Since we are able to detect virtually all solid tumors at stage 1 during routine blood testing,” says Bossmann in a university statement, “this cost-effective technology used together with the already established cancer technologies has the potential of saving half the lives of those diagnosed with cancer during the next decade.” Bossmann adds that the test can be readily adopted by clinical labs.

Kansas State University Research Foundation, the university’s technology transfer office, is seeking partners to license the technology for commercialization. The office says the test also has patents from Europe, Australia, and Canada.

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