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IU researcher awarded $2.3M grant to study autoimmune disease diagnosis

Feng Guo IU.jpg
Posted at 4:38 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 16:38:30-04

BLOOMINGTON — A researcher at Indiana University Bloomington has been awarded a $2.3 million grant to advance research on autoimmune disease that could impact the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of diseases like multiple sclerosis.

The university on Thursday announced that the National Institutes of Health awarded its New Innovator Award to Feng Guo, an assistant professor of intelligent systems engineering at IU. The award supports exceptionally creative, early-career innovators who propose innovative, high-impact projects in the biomedical, behavioral or social sciences. Guo is one of 33 recipients nationally to receive the grant.

According to IU, Guo's research could have an impact not only on multiple sclerosis, but also other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, by strengthening the ability to detect them.

Guo said clinical tests aren't currently able to adequately predict the progression of MS or measure the efficacy of treatment because there are no sufficiently sensitive or effective biomarkers.

The university said as part of the grant, Guo will develop new ways for measuring cell adhesion, or cell stickiness. The degree of stickiness of circulating cells in blood and body fluids can be used as a marker to monitor the progression of many autoimmune diseases as well as metastatic diseases.

Current technology can measure only one cell with high precision or measure a large number of cells with lower precision.

"My goal is to prototype a portable, user-friendly intelligent biomedical system using low-cost disposable devices and bioinformatic analysis for wide applications in research laboratories and hospitals," Guo said.