A two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health will fund work by a Purdue Research Park-based company to improve methods to screen blood plasma samples for biomarkers, which are measurable indicators of a disease, to expedite diagnosis and treatment.
Tymora Analytical Operations LLC received the NIH STTR Phase 1 grant worth $640,000 to develop a new method for improved biomarker discovery. Anton Iliuk, president and chief technology officer, said almost all major diseases, including cancer; neurological diseases like Alzheimer's, dementia and Parkinson's; and autoimmune diseases have biomarkers. These biomarkers appear before the onset of visible physiological symptoms.
"The body produces symptoms after a disease has progressed. There is a reason for the onset of symptoms, which means change is happening at the molecular level from the non-disease state to the disease state. Biomarkers are beacons that signify this change," he said. "If clinicians can screen for biomarkers at earlier stages, treatments can begin earlier, which could lead to better prognosis, increased likelihood of disease remission and significantly longer survival rates."
Tymora Analytical Operations will partner with Purdue University and the Indiana University School of Medicine to develop the method. W. Andy Tao, professor of biochemistry in Purdue's College of Agriculture will be the principal investigator. Tao also is chief scientific officer at Tymora Analytical Operations.
"A blood plasma sample is very complex with thousands of kinds of protein molecules, and the 10 most abundant account for 99 percent of the sample. A researcher would see only a small portion of all the variety of molecules in the sample," he said. "We are working on a process to clear away the 'noise,' those most-abundant proteins that could not be biomarkers because everyone, whether affected by disease or not, has them. Without the noise, it becomes easier to find the biomarkers."
Iliuk said the NIH grant will be used to create the process for blood plasma samples, but it could be applied to other biofluids, like saliva or urine, and a variety of diseases.
"My colleagues and I feel honored that the NIH chose our proposal for this work," he said. "We feel this recognition validates our work and our efforts to improve the technology used for disease screening."
Date: October 16, 2014
Source: Tymora Analytical Operations