College of Science, Technology, and Health

AMS Professor Ng Seeks to Commercialize Cancer Marker

Ah-Kau Ng, Professor of Immunology in the Department of Applied Medical Sciences, is receiving support from the Research Administration and Development Commercialization Funding Program for the commercialization of his project, Monoclonal Antibodies to C-Terminal Domains of Osteopontin, a potential cancer biomarker, a tissue development factor, and an early T lymphocyte activation marker.  The funding was awarded as part of a competitive process, with the goal of expanding the commercialization of USM technology. The funds support the development of innovations with commercial potential, with the end result that more USM technology reaches the marketplace.

In 2012, the American Cancer Society estimates over 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the USA, including ~8990 cases in Maine, and ~577,190 cancer deaths will occur in the USA, including ~3730 in Maine. This clearly demonstrates why cancer remains a health concern both nationally and regionally. More importantly, the data indicate the urgent need for more basic research on cancer development and clinical research on cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Dr. Ng's lab is developing new laboratory tests for cancer diagnosis and identification of a new molecular target for cancer treatment. Human osteopontin (OPN) is a protein which plays critical roles in tumor development, progression and metastasis. The level of OPN is highly elevated in many types of cancers, including breast and prostate cancers, making the protein a potential marker (signature) molecule which could be used as a target molecule for both cancer detection and treatment. His research aims at producing and characterizing a series of OPN specific monoclonal antibodies which behave like molecular probes that can target specifically at different regions (domains) of the OPN protein. This battery of OPN specific antibodies will be valuable in investigating the role of different domains of OPN in cancer as well as in developing new techniques in cancer diagnosis and therapy. In addition, these antibodies to OPN domains will also find additional applications in research on both autoimmune diseases and bone development in which OPN also has a role.

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