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Biomedical Miracles

Health Care Innovations by MU Scientists

A computer screen displays an image derived from a gold nano-rod-based technology developed by Mizzou researchers Raghuraman Kannan and Gerald Arthur for use in early detection of cancer. Gold nanorods are attached with a peptide that specifically seeks out the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a biomarker for cancer in tissue. The cancer detection kit is one of five projects recently chosen for funding through the Coulter Foundation.

Helping in that endeavor is the Coulter Foundation, an organization established by engineer, inventor and entrepreneur Wallace H. Coulter to fund medical research and engineering.

Last year Mizzou was chosen as one of 15 universities in the nation — and the only university in Missouri — to enter into a Coulter Translational Partnership to take biomedical engineering products from the lab to the market. It’s a distinction that places Mizzou in good company, among universities such as Stanford, Duke, UCLA and Johns Hopkins.

Chuck Caldwell

Chuck Caldwell, a graduate student in biological engineering, observes displays during a celebration of the Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program at the Reynolds Alumni Center. Caldwell works with one of the research teams on the development of biomedical technologies for cancer treatment. His father, Bill Caldwell, professor emeritus of pathology and former director of Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, played a key role in forging Mizzou's partnership with the Coulter Foundation.

The inventions

Kicking off the fall 2012 semester, Mizzou has announced five projects getting a nudge toward commercialization thanks to $5.2 million in Coulter funds.

Each project is led by an interdisciplinary team of principal investigators: an engineer from the MU College of Engineering and a clinician from the MU School Medicine. All of the undertakings promise to improve diagnosis and treatment for multiple medical conditions:

  • Lung cancer
    Professors Li Qun Gu and Michael Wang have developed an accurate, inexpensive, noninvasive nanotechnological method for measuring the effects of lung cancer therapies. The technique has potential applications in treating other cancers, heart disease, diabetes and psychiatric disorders.
  • Colorectal cancer
    Also using nanotechnology, professors Raghuraman Kannan and Gerald Arthur have designed a detection kit for early diagnosis of colorectal cancer that also can be used for detecting other forms of cancer.
  • Burn wounds
    Using laser technology, professors John Viator and Stephen Barnes have created a photoacoustic diagnostic instrument to measure the depth of burns in a noninvasive way, helping to preserve healthy tissue in burn patients.
  • ACL injuries
    Professors Sheila Grant and Richard White have developed a new tissue graft technology for use in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery. The new method is designed to integrate better into joints, last longer and improve functionality.
  • Autism
    A new pupillary light reflex test invented by professors Gang Yao and Judith Miles can be used to monitor children’s neurological development and provide early detection of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.

“This theme of serving the patients of our health system is very critical to what we are all about today,” MU Chancellor Brady Deaton told the crowd gathered at an Aug. 31 event celebrating the Coulter partnership and announcing the projects.

Click here to read the rest at the Mizzou Wire >>