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The-Laboratory-Report_Fall-2014

THE LABORATORY REPORT Fall 2014 Page 4 Dr. Youli Zu Awarded Two Grants to Improve Cancer Cell Detection Dr. Youli Zu was recently awarded a 3-year grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) for his application titled “Accurate and high-throughput detection of breast and ovarian cancer cells in whole blood”. His proposal aims to develop a one-step, aptamer-based assay that will identify circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in cancer patient blood. Dissemination of cancer cells from the primary tumor to distant tissues and organs is the major cause of cancer-related deaths. Over the past decade, many clinical studies have shown that CTCs present in the bloodstream are associated with disease progression, recurrence, and ultimately patient survival. However, it has been a challenge to develop methods to accurately identify and enumerate CTCs due to their scarcity. To date, the only FDA-approved technology relies on a complicated, multi-step process that can lead to loss and damage of already very rare cells and takes over 20 hours to complete. Dr. Youli Zu To address this important clinical issue, Dr. Zu and his team plan to develop a revolutionary single-step platform that will allow for rapid identification of CTCs. This new assay will be based on aptamer technology, an area of active research in Dr. Zu’s laboratory. Aptamers are short DNA or RNA sequences that function similarly to antibodies and preferentially bind their target proteins on the surface of cancer cells. Once the CTC detection technology is developed, the one-step assay will offer a system for accurate detection of CTCs without a lengthy isolation protocol. In addition to the CPRIT award, Dr. Zu and his partners at Telovision, LLC, have received a grant from the Small Business Technology Transfer Program at the National Institutes of Health. The grant, titled “A simple assay system for rapid detection of circulating tumor cells”, will provide funds to commercialize this technology. Dr. Zu is Medical Director of Hematopathology and Director of the Cancer Pathology Laboratory in the Department of Pathology and Genomic Medicine. He is also Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. For more information on Dr. Zu and his research, please visit www.houstonmethodist.org/youlizumdphd Dr. Matthew Cykowski Receives the O.T. Bailey-Helena Riggs Award Dr. Matthew Cykowski, a neuropathology fellow in the Department of Pathology and Genomic Medicine, received the Diagnostic Slide Session O.T. Bailey- Helena Riggs Award at the 90th annual meeting of the American Association of Neuropathologists. The meeting was held in Portland, Oregon, from June 12th to 15th, 2014. Dr. Cykowski presented a case describing the involvement of the central nervous system in Chagas’ disease, a tropical disease caused by the infection with Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan organism spread by insects. Dr. Cyckowski is a PGY6 neuropathology fellow in the Department and plans to pursue an active research program studying neurodegenerative disorders. Dr. Matthew Cykowski


The-Laboratory-Report_Fall-2014
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