Ceres Nanosciences, University of Virginia, and George Mason University receive $600,000 award from the Virginia Catalyst to develop a Nanotrap® liquid biopsy collection device for cancer diagnostics

MANASSAS, Va. — June 4, 2019 — Ceres Nanosciences, Inc. (Ceres), University of Virginia (UVA), and George Mason University (Mason) today announced the receipt of a $600,000 award from the Virginia Catalyst for the development of a Nanotrap® liquid biopsy collection device. This award will be matched by $1.2 million in product development funding by Ceres Nanosciences.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death world-wide and the global cancer burden is expected to grow to 23.6 million new cancer cases by 2030. Tissue biopsies are the current gold standard for detecting and obtaining information about cancer. By collecting cells from tumors, doctors can determine if cancer is present and can provide information on the type of cancer, the patient prognosis, and treatment options. But tissue biopsies require surgery, making them risky, costly, and painful. This means that repeat tissue biopsies on patients is a difficult and impractical method for monitoring tumors as they develop and change over time.

Recent advances, however, have led to the development of a “liquid biopsy” which enables analysis of tumor material—like circulating tumor DNA or proteins — directly from bodily fluids like blood or urine. Unfortunately, the amount of circulating tumor DNA or other tumor material in fluids like blood is frequently below the limits of detection of current molecular assays.

“The liquid biopsy tests currently in clinical use are revolutionizing cancer diagnostics,” said Eli Williams, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Associate Director of Genomics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “But the tumor DNA circulating around in the blood is a tiny, often undetectable fraction of the DNA in a patient’s sample. We need new technologies that can improve the collection of tumor DNA in blood.”

“Ceres has demonstrated the clinical utility of the Nanotrap® technology in multiple infectious diseases,” said Ross Dunlap, CEO of Ceres Nanosciences. “Which is why we are very excited to partner with UVA and Mason to develop a Nanotrap® liquid biopsy collection device that will isolate, concentrate, and preserve tumor DNA from biological samples for improved cancer diagnosis.”

“The Virginia Catalyst program is a fantastic and unique resource available to Virginia biosciences companies and researchers,” said Emanuel “Chip” Petricoin, University Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine at George Mason University, and a co-inventor of the background Nanotrap® technology. “We are extremely honored to be chosen as awardees for this high-impact product development effort.”

About Ceres Nanosciences, Inc.

Ceres Nanosciences is a privately held company, located in Prince William County, Virginia, focused on the development of research and diagnostic products using its unique and proprietary Nanotrap® particle technology. The Nanotrap® particle technology provides powerful biomarker capture and biofluid sample processing capabilities for a wide array of diagnostic applications and sample handling needs. The Nanotrap® particle technology was invented at George Mason University and developed under funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). With support from the NIH, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, Ceres is focused on incorporating this technology into a range of innovative diagnostic products. Learn more at