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Multi-disciplinary Team Receives NIH Cooperative Agreement to Develop Extracellular RNA Isolation Technology

Author: M. Sharon Stack, PhD

Chia Chang Web

Extracellularly localized ribonucleic acids (exRNAs) play a critical role in cell:cell communication in health and disease. To protect these exRNAs from degradation in biofluids, they are transported in extracellular vesicles or in complex with lipoproteins or ribonucleoproteins. A research team led by Hsueh-Chia Chang, Bayer Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is working to develop new technologies to enable identification of not just the exRNA profile of a biofluid, but also the corresponding carrier from which it originates. The end result will be an integrated suite of high-throughput microfluidic technologies that will facilitate exRNA screening for cancer diagnostics and therapy management.


David Go Web

This project builds upon the success of novel membrane-based microfluidic devices developed by Chang and colleagues David Go, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Satyajyoti Senapati, Research Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The team has recently demonstrated success using an integrated microfluidics platform to detect microRNAs localized in extracellular vesicles as biomarkers for early-stage cancer diagnosis. “The successful development of these new tools will have a profound and transformative impact on advancing our understanding of exRNA biology and detecting exRNA expression as biomarkers for cancer and a wide range of other diseases,” Chang said.  Joining the engineering team is Crislyn D’Souza-Shorey, the Morris Pollard Professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. D’Souza-Shorey’s work on RNA-based cargos and extracellular vesicle dynamics adds important biological insight to the project.

Satyajyoti Senapati

The grant, entitled “High-Throughput Electrokinetic Fractionation and Analysis of Extracellular RNA Nano-Carriers” is a four-year UG3 Cooperative Agreement project with a total budget of $2.9 million. Chang and his collaborators are members of the Harper Cancer Research Institute and the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics initiative.

D Souza Harper1


Originally published by M. Sharon Stack, PhD at on July 22, 2019.