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Notre Dame Team Wins $2.9M NIH Grant for ExRNA Analysis Platform

NEW YORK — A University of Notre Dame research team has won a $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop an extracellular RNA isolation and analysis platform for diagnostic applications, the university announced this week.

According to the project's lead investigator Hsueh-Chia Chang, the platform uses low-resistance membranes with asymmetric nanopores to isolate exosomes from blood at yields greater than existing products based on size exclusion, filtration, or ultra-centrifugation. A surface acoustic wave-based microfluidic device is then used to separate the exosomes from their extracellular exRNA cargo, such as microRNAs, for analysis as biomarkers.

"Current technology has allowed for the identification of exRNA, but slowly, and the results are typically inefficient and lack the quality needed to determine a diagnosis," Chang said in a statement. "Our proposed diagnostic platform will separate the nanoparticle carriers, release their exRNA cargo, and then identify the disease biomarkers, all by integrating an array of technologies invented by our research team here at Notre Dame."

Chang will also collaborate with Notre Dame's Crislyn D'Souza-Schorey to investigate exRNAs as cancer biomarkers.