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Posted 07.27.06


Grant to Support Development of Cancer Detection Devices

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have been awarded $470,000 from a private foundation for the development of new medical technologies aimed at improving cancer detection.

Xudong Fan and John A. Viator, assistant biological engineering professors in the College of Engineering and College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, each have earned grants from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, a Florida-based, non-profit foundation supporting biomedical engineering research. Both will build desktop computer-type devices that can be used for everyday clinical practice.

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Fan will receive $238,000 for a prototype device capable of rapidly detecting cancer molecules using a single, small blood sample. It will test for a number of proteins or DNA molecules that if found together indicate cancer. Paul Dale, an associate professor of clinical surgery; Huidong Shi and Charles W. Caldwell, professors of pathology and anatomical science; and Shubhra Gangopadhyay, an electrical and computer engineering professor, is working with Fan on the project.

Fan, who hopes to complete the project in two years, said his device will enable doctors to accurately and more quickly detect cancer.

"Within one doctor's visit, you could get results," he said. "You wouldn't have to send a sample to a pathologist's office and wait."

Viator will receive $232,000 for a laser device that works with sound waves to detect melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. His device bombards blood samples with laser light, sparking sound waves if it runs into as few as 30 melanoma cells. His goal is to make the mechanism sensitive enough to detect a single melanoma cell. Viator said it will be ready for clinical tests early next year.

Viator also is working with Dale; Jon Dyer, an assistant professor of dermatology and child health; Scott Holan, an assistant professor of statistics; and Ryan M. Weight, a biological engineering graduate student.

"If we can overcome some engineering hurdles, the device may easily be found in every cancer treatment center in the nation, if not the world," he said.



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