Research conducted at LU enhances disease diagnosis

Lamar University professor contributes to patenting technology to enhance the early detection of diseases, such as cancer and COVID-19, with the potential to save lives.

Dr. Ian Lian, associate professor of biology, in collaboration with inventors from the University of California, has been granted a U.S. patent titled, “Enrichment and detection of nucleic acids with ultra-high sensitivity.”

The newly patented technology allows for the detection of trace amounts of disease and injury biomarkers of brain and cardiac injuries and cancer tissues, as well as pathogen DNA/RNA in biofluids, including those of COVID-19.

“One unique aspect of this technology is, it doesn't require the sample amplification step commonly utilized in typical DNA detection equipment,” said Lian. “Therefore, it is more cost-effective and faster than the tools being used in current clinical diagnostic labs and has the potential to save many lives as a result.”

The patent is based on collaborative research first published in the “Journal ASC Nano, titled, “Self-Assembled Pico-Liter Droplet Microarray for Ultrasensitive Nucleic Acid Quantification,” which utilizes a super water-repelling material “black silica” to speed up the biochemical step of DNA/RNA detection and incorporates micro-fabricated chambers to allow the screening of thousands of samples on a single device simultaneously. The scope of this fully licensed patent includes 16 claims.     

“I am glad to see the outcome of a basic science research project translated into a patent,” said Lian. “The logical next step is to commercialize the technology to point-of-care diagnostic tools so that early diagnosis of trauma and diseases can be done in a primary care field and mobile environments without sending samples to clinical diagnostic labs.”