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Protea, VCU Sign Deal to Combine LAESI Technology with Other Molecular Imaging Approaches

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Protea Biosciences said today that it has entered into a collaborative research agreement with Virginia Commonwealth University and its Center for Molecular Imaging focused on improved molecular imaging techniques for the study of cancer, Alzheimer's, and other diseases.

Under the collaboration, the parties will work to combine Protea's ex vivo molecular imaging mass spectrometry technology, Laser Ablation Electrospray Ionization, or LAESI, with VCU's in vivo molecular PET, SPECT and MRI/MRS imaging capabilities.

LAESI technology uses a mid-infrared laser to ablate biological tissues and aqueous samples, turning them into gas phase particles that can then be ionized using electrospray ionization and analyzed via mass spec. According to Protea, the method allows for mass spec-based imaging of molecular targets in 2D and 3D tissue samples, including living cells, with minimal sample preparation and minimal destruction of the source sample.

LAESI-based analyses, the company said, can be completed in seconds to minutes, allowing researchers to track molecular changes in cells over time.

"We are pleased to form this exciting research collaboration with VCU's Center for Molecular Imaging," Protea CEO Steve Turner said in a statement. "It has been the dream of medical science to be able to obtain data on cellular changes at the molecular level, rapidly, and in tandem with existing imaging screening methods. This research initiative is directed at achieving this goal."

Financial and other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.