The group will use the funds to create an instrument prototype to detect cancer cells in the blood.
A team of researchers from Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) received a $657,222 Early Translational Research Award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to create an instrument prototype to detect cancer cells in the blood.
The team includes Siva Vanapalli, the Bill Sanderson Faculty Fellow and a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering; Hamed Sari-Sarraf, a professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering; and Rakhshanda Rahman, a professor in the Department of Surgery at TTUHSC and the director of the Breast Center of Excellence.
The group will use the funds to develop a prototype of a compact instrument able to separate and count circulating tumor cells in the blood without antibody-based labeling or immunostaining markers. CPRIT previously supported cancer research in Vanapalli's laboratory through four grants, including a High-Impact/High-Risk Research Award that led to the current project.
"We are truly excited to use our collective intelligence and the opportunity that CPRIT has given us to translate technological advances in microfluidics, computational imaging and machine learning for the detection of circulating tumor cells in the blood of breast cancer patients," Vanapalli said. "Circulating tumor cells are gaining prominence as a liquid biopsy approach for prognosis and personalized treatment of cancer."
Joseph Heppert, vice president for research in the Office of Research & Innovation, believes the work the group is doing is vital to cancer research and could improve life expectancy for those with cancer.
"Texas Tech is very proud of the research Dr. Vanapalli is conducting on the detection of circulating tumor cells," Heppert said. "Identifying and characterizing circulating tumor cells holds promise for preventing and treating metastatic cancer, which could greatly prolong life, reduce cancer recurrence and ease suffering among cancer patients. We are extremely grateful to CPRIT for recognizing and supporting this important research project."
The translational research award is one of four grants totaling more than $6 million CPRIT awarded the Texas Tech University System this year. Since its inception, CPRIT has awarded the Texas Tech University System 67 grants totaling $74,397,820. Of the 67 grants, 40 have been academic research grants ($41,153,934) and 27 have been prevention grants ($33,409,777).
About the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas
To date, CPRIT has awarded $2.4 billion in grants to Texas research institutions and organizations through its academic research, prevention and product development research programs. CPRIT has recruited 181 distinguished researchers, supported the establishment, expansion or relocation of 36 companies to Texas and generated more than $3 billion in additional public and private investment. CPRIT funding has advanced scientific and clinical knowledge and provided 5.7 million life-saving cancer prevention and early detection services, reaching Texans from all 254 counties. In May 2019, the Texas Legislature approved a constitutional amendment for the Nov. 5, 2019, general election ballot to authorize an additional $3 billion in bonds for cancer research and prevention.