VOLUME 17 #1

current cover


Proteins could detect cancer's spread

Cindy Farach-Carson
Photo by Eric Crossan
Cindy Farach-Carson leads a team conducting breakthrough research into the spread of prostate cancer.

RESEARCH | The University has signed a partnership agreement with Strategic Diagnostics Inc. (SDI) to develop biomarkers that detect the spread, or metastasis, of prostate cancer.

Scientific findings suggest that when cancer cells implant in normal tissue of the body, they cause damage to surrounding proteins upon breaking away from the primary tumor, leaving behind protein molecule fragments. These fragments are indicators that the cancer has metastasized.

SDI will work to develop antibodies to detect these protein fragments left by the invading cancer cells. The results of tests that employ such antibodies would help determine the stage and severity of the cancer and allow medical professionals to develop effective treatment options for patients with metastatic disease.

The agreement with SDI was facilitated by the University’s Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships. The Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Care will become a collaborator on the project under an existing agreement between UD and Christiana Care Health System.


Mary C. (Cindy) Farach-Carson, professor of biological sciences and of materials science and engineering at UD, who also serves as director of the Center for Translational Cancer Research, has been conducting research in the area of prostate cancer metastasis.

“We are extremely excited about this collaboration with the University of Delaware and the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center,” Francis M. DiNuzzo, president and chief executive officer of SDI, says.

“Cindy and her team are doing breakthrough research in the area of biomarker discovery. The applications of SDI’s Genomic Antibody TechnologyTM in fields such as cancer biomarker discovery represent an important opportunity for us tofurther demonstrate the efficacy of our technology platform. We look forward to contributing to this critical scientific research with theUniversity and the center.”

David S. Weir, director of the University’s Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships, echoes DiNuzzo’s comments on the importance of the partnership.

“It is a perfect triple play,” Weir says. “It benefits SDI and is another important step in building a biomedical research and business capability in the state. This partnership is clear evidence of the importance of deploying the University’s knowledge-based assets for economic and community benefit, with SDI’s technology being a strong value driver.”

The Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships serves as a gateway to enable entrepreneurship and innovation by leveraging the University’s knowledge-based assets in partnership with industry, government and other academic institutions.

Farach-Carson says the biomarker collaboration will help researchers use what they learn for the direct benefit of patients. “Working with the scientists at SDI affords us at UD and the Center for Translational Cancer Research opportunities to translate discoveries in the laboratory to useful diagnostics for cancer patients,” she says.

The translational-research center is a collaborative initiative among the state of Delaware, the University, the Delaware Biotechnology Institute and the Graham Cancer Center.

Dr. Nicholas Petrelli, medical director of the Graham center, calls the collaboration among that center, SDI and the University “an example of the successful establishment of the Center for Translational Research, which will not only succeed in helping in the care of patients, but also in establishing new jobs in the state.”

To learn more about UD's Office of Economic Innovation & Partnerships, visit www.udel.edu/oeip.

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