DNA research genomicArcis Biotechnology, the nucleic acid sample preparation solution provider, been awarded £160,000 funding under Innovate UK’s Biocatalyst programme, to be awarded over a 12 month period.

The funding will be used to assess the technical feasibility of extracting and stabilising RNA direct from urine, for use in biomarker-based clinical diagnostic assays.

RNA is inherently susceptible to degradation, making sample collection and storage near impossible, whether collecting from a remote location or for home testing.

Arcis Biotechnology has developed a procedure to simplify RNA extraction and stabilise the RNA pool for up to 26 days. This project seeks to explore the feasibility of adapting this process to extract and stabilise RNA direct from urine. The process could then be applied to develop a kit for home sample collection and transfer to a clinical laboratory, to test for prostate and bladder cancers, amongst other conditions.

RNA sequences expressing altered proteins are potentially useful as diagnostic markers, and may be quantified using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qrtPCR).

However, primarily because of the difficulties associated with storage and degradation, the use of RNA quantification for disease diagnosis for some cancers, particularly prostate cancer, has previously been limited owing to the necessity for the patient to be in close proximity to the equipment.

Dr Jan Rogers, CSO, Arcis Biotechnology, commented: “The ability to validate and use RNA biomarkers for clinical diagnostics is potentially game-changing, and being able to extract and store RNA from urine samples would offer clinicians a simple, minimally invasive diagnostic procedure. We are delighted that Innovate UK has identified the potential opportunity provided by our RNA extraction and stabilisation technology.”