Downstate to Receive SUNY Award to Advance Innovative Breast Cancer Test

Released: 6/6/2013 5:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: SUNY Downstate Medical Center
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Newswise — Brooklyn — SUNY Downstate Medical Center will receive up to $50,000 from the statewide SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund (TAF) to advance a blood test to determine breast cancer prognosis. Launched in 2011, TAF cultivates innovation by speeding the commercialization of high-impact SUNY inventions.

Henri Tiedge, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology and of neurology at SUNY Downstate, has developed a novel blood test to help diagnose breast cancer and predict breast cancer progression. The technology detects circulating tumor cells utilizing a unique RNA molecule as a specific biomarker for breast cancer.

Under normal conditions, the expression of this molecule is exclusive to nerve cells, and it is undetectable in normal breast tissue and benign breast tumors. In contrast, breast cells that are cancerous (and notably breast carcinomas) show high levels of expression of this biomarker, and its expression levels reliably correlate to the degree of cancer invasiveness.

The proposed biomarker, if put into commercial production, could prove invaluable for early breast cancer diagnosis, evaluation of tumor progression and clinical outcomes, and for supporting decisions regarding the best course of treatment for each individual patient. Dr. Tiedge’s innovative technology has the potential to significantly impact the cancer diagnostic market and improve breast cancer treatment outcomes.

Advantages of this technology are that it is non-invasive and suitable for long-term monitoring, with no biopsy required, just a small blood draw; it is simple and inexpensive; it has high sensitivity and reproducibility of results; and it uses standard laboratory equipment and protocols.

Breast cancer is among the most common type of cancer affecting women both in developed and developing countries. It is estimated 227,000 women were diagnosed with and 40,000 women died of breast cancer in the United States in 2012. The majority of breast cancer deaths are the result of metastatic breast cancer disease, which, despite recent advances in research and clinical management, remains poorly understood and is largely incurable. There is, therefore, a great need for reliable yet low-cost methods for diagnosis, prognosis, and prediction of response to cancer therapy in breast cancer patients.

The SUNY Downstate project is one of five from across the SUNY system that will receive TAF support in the current round of funding. The other recipients were teams from Stony Brook University, the University at Buffalo, the University at Albany, and a collaborative team representing the SUNY Upstate Medical University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Since its launch, TAF has invested over $1 million to successfully advance the commercial readiness of 16 SUNY-developed innovations that are poised for high-impact commercialization.

SUNY faculty, staff, and student proposals were evaluated by the TAF managing director with input from external experts in various fields of science and business development. Factors considered for the awards include: availability of intellectual property protection, marketability, commercial potential, feasibility, and breadth of impact.

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SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks ninth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.

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