State Grant to fund Lynch Syndrome research by UB engineering’s Prabir Patra

State Grant to fund Lynch Syndrome research by UB engineering’s Prabir Patra

When it comes to fighting certain illnesses, small and speedy are the keys to success.

Now, Prabir Patra, chair of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Bridgeport, and Manju Hingorani, a professor of molecular biology and biochemistry from Wesleyan, are developing diagnostic technology that uses tiny nanosensors to detect Lynch Syndrome (LS) as early as possible.

LS, a genetic disorder involving malfunction of DNA mismatch repair, substantively increases the risk of colorectal, endometrial and other cancers. It is thus “extremely important” to diagnose the disease early since that affects treatment protocols for cancer patients with respect to surgery, chemotherapy and ongoing monitoring, said Patra, who is also an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UB.

The project, co-proposed by Patra and Hingorani, is being funded by a $324,125 research grant from the Connecticut Department of Public Health that was awarded to Wesleyan. UB was sub-awarded $149,152.

About 150,000 patients are diagnosed with colon cancer in the U.S. per year; of that, one in 35 have Lynch Syndrome, and three or more of their relatives are at risk for the disorder. That’s roughly one in 500 Connecticut residents.

Current validated tests for the disease have limitations that lower their feasibility and widespread use in screening at-risk populations.

“How might DNA mismatch binding and signaling assays be transferred to nanoscale surfaces for greater sensitivity and ease of detection?” said Patra. “This question has a significant implication for colorectal and other cancers. My group, as well as Professor Hingorani’s team from Wesleyan, is excited to develop a biosensor device that can advance the current standard of care by diagnosing such cancers way in advance.”

“Our hypothesis is that the core functions of MMR proteins can be measured directly, quantitatively, rapidly, reliably and at clinically relevant protein concentrations on a nano-structured surface,” said Hingorani.

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625,