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Revolutionary Cancer Therapy Among Three Projects Funded by Science Center's QED Program

Seems like with each round of funding, the University City Science Center's QED Proof-of-Concept Programgets more and more interesting. In the most recent round announced earlier this week, the third overall since it began the country's first multi-institutional program of its kind, a total of $600,000 went toward a revolutionary cancer therapy, a novel treatment for hepatitis C and what's known as a "molecular toll booth" for measuring microRNA molecules.

"These projects represent the strength and diversity of scientific research in the Greater Philadelphia region," says Science Center President and CEO Stephen S. Tang in a news release.

Each project took in $200,000. George P. Tuszynski, a professor of neuroscience at Temple University, is developing a protein-based therapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that has shown promise in reverting cultured leukemic cells to normal cells. Demonstrating this activity in patients could revolutionize the standard of care for this disease.

Linda B. Couto, the associate director for the Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, is developing a novel treatment for people infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The treatment could overcome the problem of drug resistance by using a cutting-edge microRNA technology that interferes with the ability of the virus to express its own genes.

Marija Drndic, associate professor of physics at the University of Pennsylvania, is leading a group that's developing a lab-on-a-chip tool for measuring microRNA molecules in a biological sample, often a difficult task to perform accurately. Drndic's technology measures individual molecules passing through nanospores in an ultrathin silcon film.

All three winners also receive one year of support from a business advisor to help bring their technologies to market. That happened to one of the QED program's first winners in 2009--in September, Drexel University's Dr. Elisabeth Papazoglouand her team licensed their near infrared wound monitor technology to a Florida company.

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