National Institutes of Health’s (NHI) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences has awarded a $100,000 small business technology transfer programme (STTR) Phase I grant to Transgenomic to develop a genetic test that can detect pancreatic cancer biomarkers in blood or urine.

The award will fund a collaborative research effort between Transgenomic and Dr Tony Hollingsworth of the University of Nebraska Medical Centre at Omaha, Nebraska, US.

Development will involve Transgenomic utilising its proprietary ICE COLD-PCR technology for high-sensitivity detection of key mutations in pancreatic cancer in the pancreas, urine and blood.

Transgenomic CEO Craig Tuttle said the peer-reviewed grant award reinforces the technology’s ability to deliver high-sensitivity genetic information to support the treatment of oncology patients, such as those suffering from pancreatic cancer.

"Both the financial support of the NIH and working with prominent cancer research groups, such as Dr. Hollingsworth and his team, will accelerate the development of our high-sensitivity cancer diagnostic assays," Tuttle said.

Dr Hollingsworth said; "This research project is an excellent example of how an academic-industrial collaboration can rapidly determine the potential utility of a promising diagnostic or prognostic assay for one of the most insidious diseases – pancreatic cancer."

Upon receiving positive results from Phase I studies, a Phase II STTR application will be submitted to include more comprehensive studies of ICE COLD-PCR’s detection of DNA mutations associated with early and late stage pancreatic cancer.

The technology is also being evaluated in an ongoing study with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre to analyse DNA isolated from circulating tumor cells, according to the company.