A U.S. patent has been awarded to a Kansas State University technology that quickly detects the early stages of cancer before physical symptoms ever appear.
Stefan H. Bossmann, professor of chemistry; Deryl L. Troyer, professor of anatomy and physiology; and Matthew Basel, postdoctoral fellow in anatomy and physiology, developed a nanoplatform technology to detect human cancer cells and tumors in the beginning stages.
“Early detection of cancer increases the chances of successful therapy,” Troyer said. “This is because in most cases treatment can be initiated before metastases occur. Early detection also is advantageous because therapies that do not have devastating side effects are more likely to be successful.”
The technology was recently awarded U.S. Patent 8,969,027, titled “Fluorescence Assays for Serine Proteases.” It was issued to the Kansas State University Research Foundation, a nonprofit corporation responsible for managing technology transfer activities at the university. Patents also have been awarded in Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the U.K.
The researchers’ technology consists of iron/ironoxide core/shell nanoparticles coated with amino acids and a fluorescent dye. The amino acids and dye interact with enzymes in a blood sample and make it possible to diagnose a cancer type even if a patient is not showing physical symptoms associated with cancer.
A sample of a patient’s blood is converted into a blood serum. The serum is used to perform tests with enzymes — mainly proteases — that are in the bloodstream and that are expressed at different levels in cancer patients and healthy adults. Each enzyme is analyzed and compared to the enzyme pattern of different tumor types. Each type of cancer has a unique protease signature, similar to a genetic fingerprint registered in a database.
Results are produced in about 30 minutes.
The technology has a 95 percent success rate at detecting cancer at stage 1 and beyond.
“Since we are able to detect virtually all solid tumors at stage 1 during routine blood testing, 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 said. “This test can be easily incorporated into clinical labs.”
Bossmann and Troyer are currently collaborating with China’s First Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University on conducting double-blind cancer detection tests. Double-blind tests are one of the most stringent testing procedures as neither the test participants nor the administrators know who is in the control group and who is in the experimental group. If the researchers’ detection test achieves a high accuracy rate, it will likely become a viable medical test for physicians in the U.S. and across the world.
Protease measurements of more than 10,000 patients at Kunming Medical University have shown that bladder cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, fibroid cancer, gallbladder cancer, hepatoma, non-small lung cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer all feature unique protease signatures, which permit their identification in early stages.