A Colorado State University chemistry professor and his collaborators have been awarded a $750,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand their work with their "lab-on-a-chip" technology to better detect cardiovascular disease.
Charles Henry and Advanced MicroLabs, a Fort Collins-based company, will use the technology to advance their research of homocysteine – an amino acid that is a marker for cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association says studies show that too much homocysteine in the blood is related to a higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. The grant will go toward developing a prototype of the homocysteine detection technology, two chemists, a product development engineer, and CSU graduate and undergraduate researchers. Bringing the technology to the health-care market is the ultimate goal.
"Homocysteine has been demonstrated in many studies to be an important marker for cardiovascular disease and vitamin defiencies related to birth defects, pregnancy complication, psychiatric disorders and cognitive impairment in the elderly," said Dennis Tallman, president of Advanced MicroLabs. "With the award of this NIH grant, we continue our efforts to commercialize this important technology."
The lab-on-a-chip technology rapidly performs complicated diagnostic analyses in a format that fits into a person’s hand, thus providing a faster turnaround of test results at lower cost. Advanced MicroLabs licensed the technology in 2006 from the Colorado State University Research Foundation and plans to expand its use for portable, immediate and less invasive point-of-care service applications.
Henry believes the company and the technology are prepared to take off. "Advanced MicroLabs will invest in the Fort Collins community and explore growth areas such as clinical diagnostics and environmental monitoring and water quality issues." The lab-on-a-chip technology is useful in many scientific applications. Henry and his fellow scientists look for ways to use the instantaneous technology across diagnostic fields.
The NIH grant is the second this year received by Advanced MicroLabs. The company was awarded a $50,000 grant from the state of Colorado through House Bill 1001. The measure, which was signed into law last April, furthers the advancement of bioscience discoveries in the state through bioscience research grants. In all, the company has secured nearly $2 million in grants since it was founded in 2003. The funding for the research and development of this cutting-edge technology helps support innovative ideas and scientific practices. Licensing the technology through public and private partnerships will lead to market placement of an important discovery made at Colorado State University.
Advanced MicroLabs is a member of the Larimer Bioscience Cluster and a member of the Colorado Bioscience Association. The company, which includes six employees in Fort Collins and several CSU graduate students, is one of several start-up companies based at Colorado State. The city of Fort Collins and Colorado State University work closely to foster start-up companies that have a university connection.
Keeping technology, research and marketable products in Fort Collins is good for the local economy. Industry and research diversity assures the continued success of attracting a bright and talented workforce to Fort Collins.