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University of Missouri

Early Detection of Lung Cancer

MU scientists receive Coulter funding for lung cancer treatment.

Mizzou researchers

Researchers Li-Qun Gu and Dr. Michael Wang. Photo courtesy of Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

Two MU biomedical scientists are working on a method for early detection of lung cancer that eventually could save tens of thousands of lives each year.

Li-Qun Gu, associate professor of biological engineering, invented the method, then collaborated with Dr. Michael Wang, associate professor of pathology and anatomical sciences, to develop it. The invention detects molecules in blood called microRNAs, or ribonucleic acids, that suggest the presence of lung cancer about one year before the disease is symptomatic.

Early detection means cancer cells can be treated sooner, and the patient can expect a better prognosis. “This creates a much better outcome for the patient,” Wang says.

In May 2012, MU officials announced that Wang and Gu’s cancer research would receive about $100,000 funding from the Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program.

Wang and Gu have been researching the test for two years. In 2012, their research was published in the peer-reviewed journals Nature Nanotechnology and the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology.

The Coulter funds will help the scientists fine-tune detection of the blood molecule and perform clinical testing over the next two years.

Wang and Gu’s research may also find applications in early detection of heart disease, diabetes and other forms of cancer.

Read about other Coulter grant recipients:
Gold Nanorods Diagnose Colon Cancer — Raghuraman Kannan and Gerald Arthur
Nano Knees — Sheila Grant and Richard White
Shedding Laser Light on the Problem — John Viator and Stephen Barnes
Focusing on Autism Spectrum Disorder — Gang Yao and Judith Miles