Arcis Biotechnology, Daresbury, UK, has been awarded £160,000 funding under Innovate UK’s Biocatalyst program, to be awarded over a 12-month period. The funding will be used to assess the technical feasibility of extracting and stabilizing RNA directly from urine, for use in biomarker-based clinical diagnostic assays.

RNA is inherently susceptible to degradation, making sample collection and storage nearly impossible, whether collecting from a remote location or for home testing. Arcis Biotechnology has developed a procedure to simplify RNA extraction and stabilize the RNA pool for up to 26 days. The funded research project seeks to explore the feasibility of adapting this process to extract and stabilize RNA directly from urine. If successful, 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, among other conditions.

RNA sequences expressing altered proteins are potentially useful as diagnostic markers, and may be quantified using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Due primarily to the difficulties associated with storage and degradation, however, the use of RNA quantification for disease diagnosis for some cancers, particularly prostate cancer, has previously been limited by the need for the patient to be in close proximity to the diagnostic equipment.

Jan Rogers, PhD, Arcis Biotechnology.

Jan Rogers, PhD, Arcis Biotechnology.

“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,” says Jan Rogers, PhD, chief scientific officer at Arcis Biotechnology. “We are delighted that Innovate UK has identified the potential opportunity provided by our RNA extraction and stabilization technology.”

For more information, visit Arcis Biotechnology.