Stage 2 E-Team Grantees

Recipient Institution: 
The Ohio State University
Principal Investigator: 
Michael Tweedle
Grant Amount: 

An easy-to-use screening kit which identifies certain forms of cancer during a (high risk) patient's annual exam.

See the video here:

Figure 1: OncoFilter chip prototype.  The chip is used in conjunction with the test setup (represented in Figure 2) to analyze a patients blood for circulating ovarian tumor cells
Figure 2: Basic experimental test setup.  As a product, setup will be functionally replicated within a compact “black box” format.  The test setup will be reusable while individual OncoFilter chips will be disposable, following a razor – razorblade model.

The team: OncoFilter – Awarded $19,400

The team members:

  • Brett Geiger, Ph.D. candidate in Biomedical Engineering
  • Jeff Kessler, undergraduate student in the Fischer College of Business; investment banking intern at Goldman, Sachs & Co.
  • Kinshuk Mitra, undergraduate student in Biomedical Engineering

Principal investigator: 
Dr. Michael Tweedle
Professor & Stephanie Spielman Chair in Cancer Imaging
The Ohio State University

The innovation:
A new blood filtration tool that quickly and cost-effectively separates cancer cells from healthy cells to detect and monitor cancer at an early stage.

The problem:
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013, approximately 22,240 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, nearly two-thirds of which will result in death. This cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen, at which point it is difficult to treat and often fatal. Finding a better way to detect ovarian cancer at an earlier stage when it is treatable would save thousands of lives every year.

The solution:
The OncoFilter team is developing a versatile, cost-effective filtration tool for testing blood samples to detect cancers at an earlier stage than is possible with products currently on the market. The innovation takes a patient’s blood sample and filters it through a funnel-like device that sifts the blood and detects multiple cell types, DNA and proteins simultaneously, allowing for a much wider screening capability for multiple diseases and types of cancers. The filters are low-cost and easy to use for physicians and nurses in virtually any medical laboratory nationwide, providing quicker test results—typically in less than one week. OncoFilter sees the greatest need for this product with ovarian cancer, as it is more complex to detect and monitor than most other cancers. It will be a true lifesaver in the fight against cancer.

The future:
The team will continue to develop prototypes to optimize the design and functionality of the filter technology. Concurrently, OncoFilter is working to build relationships and seek advice from experts in the field to help perfect both the device and their commercialization strategy. After prototyping, the team will submit the product to clinical trials and hopes to eventually sell the filter to a large medical device corporation for mass production and distribution.

The OncoFilter team’s dream is for the device to be used in a mainstream setting to diagnose and monitor for ovarian cancer. Ideally, the team would like to eventually see medical professionals recommend annual screenings using this technology as a critical component in early detection and prevention efforts designed to increase ovarian cancer survival rates, in much the same way as yearly mammograms have been utilized in the fight against breast cancer.

Tip for student innovators:
Kinshuk says, “Be resilient. Innovating and being entrepreneurial takes a toll on you and your team. It is important to accept that we all have wins and losses along the way, so being able to bounce back and learn from a bump in the road is absolutely critical.”