The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) granted an Innovation Award to researchers working on a blood test to detect colon cancer. The studies being conducted by biochemistry Professor Michael Sussman and his team, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, aim to save lives through earlier, easier, and more detailed detection of the disease.
The project for a blood test able to detect colon cancer was among a number of projects honored by WARF. Sussman and his team are working on an early detection method expected to bring new hope into the fight against colon cancer, a disease that affects millions of people worldwide, with nearly 100,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. annually.
Early detection is determinant to improve life expectancy and survival in patients who suffer from colon cancer. The currently most common method of diagnosis is colonoscopy, which is an invasive and expensive exam. This novel test uses only a small blood sample and can search for protein “red flags.”
“We’re still in (the) early stages,” explained Melanie Ivancic, who is a member of Sussman’s team. “The pilot study in humans is going well so far. We’re participating in the WARF Accelerator Program to expand the study to include a larger number of patients looking at pre-cancer polyps as well.” Early results from the research suggest the diagnostic test has the capacity to detect cancer at an early stage and may perform better than other screening methods.
In addition to Michael Sussman and Melanie Ivancic, the awarded team also includes William Dove, Jennifer Pleiman, Edward Huttlin, Perry Pickhardt, Xiaodi Chen, Amy Irving, Adrian Hegeman, Mark Reichelderfer, and Gregory Kennedy. The researchers will be attributed a $5,000 grant to support their research, as will other winners of the WARF Innovation Awards.
The awarded teams were selected by an independent panel of judges from a field of six finalists, drawn from among over 380 invention disclosures submitted to WARF over the past 12 months. “The Innovation Awards showcase the people and ideas that make the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the leading edge of scientific research in the nation and world,” stated the managing director of WARF, Carl Gulbrandsen.