Oxford Biomedical Research has been awarded a $1.2 million contract to develop medical tests that will detect toxicity in multiple organs, including a device that tests toxicity in urine samples in a format similar to a home pregnancy test.
Denis Callewaert, CEO of the Rochester Hills-based research firm, says the device would make a great impact in pharmaceutical research and development. “For some disease and toxic agents, you can’t (determine their effects) unless you do a biopsy on a human or necropsy on a rat. With these tests, they could just select urine samples at different time intervals during the drug development process, and they wouldn’t have to use as many animals,” he says.
In time, the test could also be of benefit in the clinical setting. A self-packaged device would allow a doctor or other medical professional to perform the test at a patient’s bedside instead of sending a blood sample to the lab and having to wait for the results, Callewaert says.
Unlike a current home pregnancy test, which only measures one thing, the hormone HCG tests will be able to detect toxicity and differentiate potential toxic effects in multiple organs. It would also be able to detect toxic effects more quickly than current tests.
“For example, when doing chemotherapy, (the medical staff) currently use some lab tests to make sure they’re not giving so much that it damages the liver, kidneys, or muscles,” Callewaert says. “But by the time those tests are positive, there’s already been lot of damage. These tests are designed to be more sensitive so they can catch the toxins earlier on.”
The funding by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is for a two-year period although the research could take longer. “All of the literature says it should work, but we’ll have to see what happens,” Callewaert says.