A breath-test that sends warning signs of lung cancer is one University of Cincinnati project that has received new funding from the UC Office of Research
supporting sensor technology.
The Office of Research is offering new $15,000 seed-funding grants specifically designed to support collaborations that stretch across colleges and disciplines. The one-year program is geared to help researchers prepare to apply for major external funding in the future.
One of the two teams receiving grants includes College of Medicine
faculty members Jonathan Bernstein, MD, professor of internal medicine in the Division of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology, and Saulius Kazimieras Girnius, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. Joining them in the project is Anastasios Angelopoulos, PhD, associate professor, School of Energy, Environmental, Biological and Medical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science
Lung cancer is the second-most common cancer and remains the most common cause of cancer death, according to National Cancer Institute. Early detection has the potential to save thousands of lives, but up until now, lung-cancer screenings have primarily been though CT scans, which themselves carry radiation risk.
Researchers know that lung cancer alters the chemicals exhaled in regular breathing, so a non-invasive breath-test that identifies cancer-influenced chemical combinations would offer a great advance toward early detection. Creating a sensor that can measure the kind and amount of specific chemicals in exhaled breaths could go a long way toward detecting early-stage lung cancer.
This research project is based both in a sensor lab and clinical practice allowing "bench” researchers to work with real patients (some diagnosed with lung cancer already, some at high-risk for developing it) to measure in real-time the chemicals that they exhale. This, in turn, gives clinical researchers an edge in developing guides for future lung cancer screening that is both non-invasive and accurate.
Adding a clinical team to the project creates a dynamic collaboration through which research and action connect at the earliest stages of developing a system for effective screening.
"Sensor research is a great example of the kind of forward-focused investigations underway at the University of Cincinnati,” said Pat Limbach, PhD, vice president for research, Ohio Eminent Scholar and professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences. "By its very nature, sensor research requires collaboration. We are proud to support both our faculty who are at the early stages of ground-breaking discoveries as well as their impressive cross-disciplinary team approaches.”
The other project funded
will look at how bats could help shape the future of unmanned aerial vehicles and includes faculty from the College of Engineering and Applied Science and the College of Arts and Sciences.
"Collaborative research has been happening at UC for a very long time, but we have only more recently started to highlight and reward it on a regular basis,” said Philip Taylor, assistant vice president of strategic initiatives in UC’s Office of Research. "These seed grants help us bring together researchers who might not otherwise have the time or resources they need to develop world-changing projects. It’s our hope that with these starter funds, the researchers can get a jump-start on carrying their theories into practice.”