The National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program has awarded a grant of more than $400,000 to researchers from Capital Health Cancer Center in Pennington, New Jersey, and JBS Scientific Inc. in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
The grant is supporting a feasibility study to determine if a simple urinary test could potentially replace upper-tract imaging and endoscopic procedures for initial bladder cancer detection. The SBIR Program supports research and development of aging- and health-focused products and services by small business concerns that may ultimately lead to commercialization.
Dr. Eric Mayer, director of Urologic Robotic Surgery and the Center for Retroperitoneal Malignancies at Capital Health Cancer Center, and Dr. Selena Lin of JBS Science are the co-principal investigator and principle investigator, respectively in the study. Dr. Ying-Hsiu Su, co-founder of JBS Science and a Professor of Translational Medical Sciences at the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, is consultant in the study. Their research compares urine testing against blood testing in bladder cancer to determine if urine DNA (if isolated properly) is sufficient for a genetic liquid biopsy for both muscle-invasive and non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer.
“I’m excited to be part of research that could significantly improve how we detect bladder cancer,” said Dr. Mayer. “In addition to the potential for a more precise method of detection, a urine test for bladder cancer would put much less of a burden on patients in the future who are grappling with the uncertainty of a possible cancer diagnosis.”
“If this feasibility study proves that urine is useful as a genetic liquid biopsy, that would be very helpful for bladder cancer precision medicine,” said Dr. Su. “It’s always very exciting to see how this urine technology can be used in patients, since our laboratory has pioneered to use urine DNA for cancer liquid biopsy. It’s rewarding to see how our research can be translated from bench to the bedside and be used with patients.”
Capital Health Cancer Center began its biorepository (also known as a tissue bank) in 2019. The Cancer Center developed a relationship with the Blumberg Institute a year later, giving the Doylestown-based Institute’s translational scientists access to the specimens in the tissue bank. Capital Health Cancer Center physicians work collaboratively with these scientists to conduct research and develop new cancer therapies and personalized medicine. Having access to actual cancer tissue is critical for researchers because obtaining sufficient quantities of the right samples for scientific research is a hurdle they encounter often. Specimens are routinely obtained from patients undergoing a surgical or biopsy procedure, and the biorepository stores extra tissue under deep-freeze conditions for use by researchers. Participation is voluntary, and the specimens are stored according to strict standards regarding anonymity, collection, storage, and processing.
“Developing our tissue bank and joining forces with the Blumberg Institute has proven to be an impactful investment in the fight to defeat cancer,” said Dr. Cataldo Doria, medical director of Capital Health Cancer Center. “By building on our partnership with efforts like this bladder cancer detection study, we’re reaffirming our commitment to providing patients with enhanced cancer care that will lead to better outcomes.”
Dr. Eric Mayer is a board certified urologist with expertise in treating all forms of urologic conditions. He specializes in minimally invasive, robotic-assisted urologic procedures using the da Vinci® Surgical System and is the first surgeon in Pennsylvania to perform a laparoscopic prostatectomy using the da Vinci® platform. Dr. Mayer received his medical degree from UMDNJ- Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where he also completed his urology residency.
Dr. Ying-Hsiu Su is an associate member of the National Cancer Institute’s Early Detection Research Network (EDRN) and a pioneer in the field of transrenal DNA for cancer detection. She and her research team at the Blumberg Institute have developed the technology to preferentially isolate this circulation-derived urine DNA for detection of colon and liver cancers. In addition, her group established a Standard Operating Protocol for collection and storage of urine samples for biomarker studies in the EDRN of the NCI.
About Capital Health Cancer Center
Capital Health Cancer Center is the area’s most advanced provider of cancer treatment delivered by some of the most experienced medical experts. At the Center, a team of physicians from related fields such as medical oncology, radiation oncology, gynecological oncology, neurosurgery, hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery, colorectal surgery, interventional GI and pulmonology, radiology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, thoracic surgery and other specialties collaborate and provide patients with a network of physicians trained in the most complex oncology issues. Capital Health is the only center in the region that offers advanced treatment options such as CyberKnife® Radiosurgery, da Vinci® Robotic-Assisted Surgery, TrueBeam® Linear Accelerator (traditional 3D conformal radiation therapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy, RapidArc® radiotherapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery), high-dose-rate radiation therapy, volumetric modulated arc therapy, advanced imaging technology (digital mammography, 3D mammography, molecular breast imaging, PET/CT, and 3T MRI), nuclear isotopes (SIR-spheres), and more. Visit capitalhealthcancer.org to learn more.
About the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute
An independent, nonprofit research organization, the Blumberg Institute was launched in 2003 by the Hepatitis B Foundation to advance its research mission. Today, the Institute is one of the nation’s leading centers for translational research in hepatitis B and liver cancer. The Institute supports drug discovery, biomarker discovery and translational biotechnology around common research themes such as chronic hepatitis, liver disease and liver cancer in an environment conducive to interaction, collaboration and focus. The Blumberg Institute is located in the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, which it manages, near Doylestown, Pa. For more, go to www.blumberginstitute.org and follow us on Twitter @BlumbergInstit1.