A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Quanterix (Cambridge, Massachusetts), which refers to itself as "the leader in single-molecule protein detection," reported being awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

This grant supports development of the company's Single Molecule Array (SiMoA) technology to develop ultrasensitive assays for the detection of proteins implicated in cancer.

Nicholas Naclerio, chairman/CEO of Quanterix, said "Quanterix's platform will allow diseases to be detected at the earliest stages to increase the likelihood that treatments can alleviate or stabilize the disease process and help ensure positive patient outcomes. The application of this technology will provide medical researchers with an unprecedented tool for detecting low abundance biological molecules, and facilitate the development of a new generation of diagnostic products useful for early detection of diseases, including cancer."

David Duffy, senior director of platform technology and principal investigator for the grant, added, "This SBIR award recognizes the potential of SiMoA to measure low-abundance proteins in serum. Funding will be used to develop and validate assays and instrumentation that enable extremely high sensitivity measurements of cancer markers."

In other grants news:

The association for medical imaging management, AHRA (Sudbury, Massachusetts) reported it has created the Patient First Program funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Toshiba America Medical Systems (TAMS; Tustin, California).

The AHRA will award three Patient First grants of $7,500 to assist hospitals in creating programs, training and/or seminars to improve patient care and safety in diagnostic imaging in the areas of computed tomography, MRI, ultrasound, X-ray and vascular imaging, as well as develop best practices to share with other hospitals.

Penny Olivi, CRA, FAHRA and president of AHRA, said, "The Patient First grants will allow hospitals to fund important programs and training to improve the quality of care they offer."

The Patient First programs should address one or more of the following:

Reducing radiation and/or contrast dose

Improving communication with patients regarding the imaging process

Improving patient comfort

Improving the overall clinical pathway

Cathy Wolfe, director, Marketing Services, Toshiba, said, "We are proud to continue ... funding grants that seek to support the development of best practices in diagnostic imaging."

TAMS sells and services diagnostic imaging systems, and coordinates clinical diagnostic imaging research for all modalities in the U.S.

•Luna Innovations (Roanoke, Virginia) reported an award from the National Cancer Institute of the NIH to improve the detection and diagnosis of brain tumors. Luna will adapt its exclusive contrast agent technology using carbon nanospheres to produce an improved MRI agent. Luna said the next-generation contrast agent will be designed to enhance tumor imaging and advance the diagnosis and treatment of this disease by directing nanomolecules to seek out specific biological targets, such as a glioblastoma tumor, one specific form of brain cancer.

Luna says its imaging technology can be modified to direct it to accumulate at specific targets. Its MRI contrast agent prototype is based on a modification of its Trimetasphere carbon nanomaterial known as the Hydrochalarone, which the company says has shown promise to significantly enhance relaxivity, a property that provides for better imaging; is extremely stable; is water soluble; and has the potential to be modified to clear from the bloodstream quickly or slowly, depending on the specific application.

"Luna's Hydrochalarone technology platform can be modified to produce targeted contrast agents, which selectively highlight the tumor cells. Our hope is that our novel approach will provide better resolution to radiologists, who in turn, will improve patient outcomes," said Kent Murphy, Luna CEO/chairman.

Last November, Luna reported its first grant with the NIH using this carbon nanotechnology platform to improve the identification of coronary artery disease. Under this program, Luna proposed to develop a diagnostic agent that would allow the use of MRI, potentially providing a noninvasive measure to evaluate plaque in the arteries without the use of ionizing radiation and catheters.

The company's contrast agent prototype is in preclinical studies at the NCI's Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory. The outcome of this characterization study is the report necessary for an Investigational New Drug application, Luna noted.