U.K. firm Arcis Biotechology has won a £160,000 award (approximately $200,000) under Innovate UK’s biocatalyst program to test the feasibility of using its nucleic extraction and stabilization technology as the potential basis for clinical diagnostic tests that detect RNA biomarkers in urine.

Arcis says the use of RNA as a diagnostic marker for diseases such as prostate cancer and bladder cancer has been limited because the nucleic acid is inherently susceptible to degradation, which makes collection and storage problematic. The firm has developed a method that it claims allows the extraction and stabilization of RNA for up to 26 days. The Innovate UK grant will support assessing the feasibility of harnessing the Arcis technology for extracting and stabilizing RNA directly from urine. Arcis says if successful, the process could be adapted to develop kits for the collection of home urine samples, which could then be sent off for testing at clinical laboratories. 

“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,” commented Jan Rogers, Ph.D., Arcis Biotechnology CSO. “We are delighted that Innovate UK has identified the potential opportunity provided by our RNA extraction and stabilization technology.”

Arcis is focused on the development of fast nucleic acid sample preparation technology. The firm’s ready-to-use Arcis DNA Prep and Arcis DNA Blood kits exploit a two-stage DNA isolation procedure that allows users to prepare DNA for subsequent PCR or quantitative PCR (qPCR) evaluation in just 3 minutes from a range of fresh and stored sample types, including microorganisms. The firm’s most recent product, the Arcis DNA Blood Kit (IVD), was launched in October 2016. Arcis raised £2.5 million ($3.1 million) in an oversubscribed fundraising round in February 2016 to support commercialization of its portfolio. 

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