The following is a list of the funded projects for 2012-2014.
Project #1 : Optical Spectroscopy for Improved PCP Screening of Colorectal Cancer
PI: Irving Bigio, Ph.D. (BU), Co-PI: Satish Singh, M.D. (BUSM, Boston VA Hospital)
The central objective of this project is to demonstrate the benefits of elastic scattering spectroscopy (ESS) as a pre-screening tool for colorectal cancer (CRC) at the primary-care physician (PCP) level. Recent studies at Northwestern University have demonstrated that a field effect of carcinogenesis (FEC) can be detected optically in endoscopically and histologically normal colorectal mucosa of patients harboring dysplasia/cancer (i.e., neoplasia) elsewhere in the colon. Our preliminary clinical studies indicate that ESS is also sensitive to the FEC, based on noninvasive optical measurements from the “normal” rectal or sigmoid mucosa, predicting the presence (or absence) of neoplastic polyps in proximal colonic segments. An optical measurement of the rectal/sigmoid mucosa that reliably predicts the presence of proximal adenomatous polyps, would dramatically alter clinical CRC screening and prevention paradigms. ESS offers the advantages of simplicity, low-cost and clinical friendliness, and enables the opportunity dramatically improve crc screeing in the PCP office. The goal is to demonstrate improvements in the screening and prevention of CRC compared to current standard practices. The potential impact on the health care system is profound, including greater CRC screening compliance and access, while lowering the overall cost burden.
Project #2: Improving Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patient Outcomes with a Novel Multiplexed Point-of-Care Biomarker Measurement System
PI: Daniel Laser, Ph.D. (wave80 Biosciences, Inc.), Co-PI: Catherine Klapperich, Ph.D. (BU)
This study focuses on new enclosed-cartridge-format assay methods and instrumentation for measurement of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) biomarkers. The program leverages a recently developed point-of-care molecular diagnostics assay platform, the EOSCAPE system, which uses singlet oxygen-catalyzed light emission and advanced assay cartridge technology to run sophisticated assays with turnaround times below 60 minutes. A new EOSCAPE cartridge is engineered to detect four proteins which, alone and in combination, are increasingly important in clinical management of patients at high risk for HCC and which require point-of-care measurement to facilitate timely clinical decision making. Prototype cartridges running the new assay will be tested in a clinical environment to assess performance incorporation into clinical workflow.
Project #3: miRNA Gel Pads for the Point of Care Detection of Lung Cancer Biomarkers in Serum
PI: Patrick Doyle, Ph.D. (MIT), Co-PI: Avrum Spira, M.D. (BUSM)
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that are known to be dysregulated in many cancer types. With greater stability and predictive value than mRNA, this relatively small class of biomolecules has become increasingly important in determining disease diagnosis and prognosis. Despite their great promise, clinicians still lack the proper tools to routinely profile miRNA. In this project, we will develop a point of care fluidic chip capable of detecting multiple miRNA biomarkers for lung cancer directly in serum. We will validate the new technologies against existing sensing platforms and then move on to build a beta prototype. The new gel-pad technologies will be validated using both in-house and external testing platforms; on both synthetic and patient samples. Having validated the lab-based technique, the Doyle lab will work with the Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation (FCMI) to build a prototype.
Project #4: Non-Enzymatic DNA Amplification Circuit for Cancer Biomarker Testing (melanoma)
PI: Andrew Ellington, Ph.D. (UT-Austin), Co-PI: Rhoda Alani, M.D. (BUSM)
Current molecular cancer diagnostics are not amenable to point-of-care testing. To effectively transition a molecular diagnostic testing into a point-of-care setting, we propose an integrated paperfluidic platform that will automate cancer biomarker testing in a manner similar to a classic diagnostic paper test-strip. We also propose to develop a hand-held electronic reader that further streamlines the already-simple sample analysis and produces a user-readable result as well as the possibility of wireless transmission of test results. The proposed system will combine extremely novel molecular techniques with mature, robust diagnostic technologies designed for point-of-care testing. Melanoma is responsible for the majority of deaths from skin cancer, and was the 6th most common cancer in the US in 2010. Histologic examination of early melanoma lesions is difficult and is not always predictive for malignant potential, which presenting clinical challenge. Encouragingly, recent studies have identified a panel of robust gene expression biomarkers that can be used to aid melanoma patient care. Circulating nucleic acid (CNA) consists of extracellular genetic material (DNA and RNA) freely found in human body fluids. These information-rich molecules of tumor-derived CNAs have a great potential as a noninvasive source of candidate biomarkers because they can be used to monitor the status of remote tumors, potentially bypassing the need for tissue biopsies. Using melanoma biomarkers as proofs-of principle, we propose to address this problem by incorporating gene expression-based and serum-based biomarker detection with an integrated solution for detection in limited-resource settings.
Project #5: My LifeCloud: A Mobile Based System Aimed at Empowering Patients who are at Risk for Colorectal Cancer
PI: Kelly Brittain, Ph.D. (Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI), Co-PI: Dr. Christos Cassandras (BU, Systems Engineering), Mr. Jose Gomez-Marquez (MIT)
Colorectal cancer is a major health threat for women. Colorectal cancer was once considered a “man’s disease” because the number of men diagnosed with colorectal cancer exceeded women 2:1. Since 2000, the number of women diagnosed with colorectal cancer has risen to equal that men. Colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates for women have not changed in 5 years. A weapon in the fight against colorectal cancer is routine screening. If routine screening occurs, colorectal cancer is nearly preventable. Unfortunately, women aged 50-64 are less likely to have been screened for CRC within the recommended screening guidelines than those 65 and older. CRC screening rates are at 50% despite over 70% of women having insurance coverage for CRC screening. Previous interventions to address colorectal cancer screening such as postcards, public service announcements, and insurance coverage have not significantly improved colorectal cancer screening among women. New, innovative strategies are urgently needed to effectively increase CRC screening and reduce the colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates among women. The purpose of this study is to explore the usability, acceptability, and satisfaction with and establish the effects of a mobile-based system designed to increase CRC screening intentions and behaviors among 50-64 year old women.