Dr. Cosentino’s research focuses on developing a diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer. He and his research partner, Dr. Lyman Rickard, are researching the use of nucleic acid aptamers, which are synthetic, single stranded RNA or DNA that, like antibodies, can bind target molecules with high affinity and specificity. However, unlike antibodies, aptamers are easier to develop, synthetic and thermally stable. This has stimulated interest in using aptamers as analytic agents in diagnosis of disease. His research goal is to optimize a sensor probe using highly specific aptamers to bind to the ovarian cancer marker. This platform technology could also be used to detect other important tumor markers and chemical compounds important to medical diagnosis, environmental contaminants and national security.
Dr. Cosentino’s research partners include Dr. Lyman Rickard, of Millersville University and Dr. G. Thomas Caltigerone, CEO and President of Aptagen, LLC, which is providing the purified aptamers for the research. The data obtained in this project will be used to apply for an SBIR/STTR grant which, if obtained, will provide funding for development of a sensor platform that could be used for detection of many substances. For instance, the sensor could be adapted to detect the biomarkers for other types of cancer, such as breast, prostate, colon, etc.
Ultimately if Dr. Cosentino’s research is successful, he and Millersville will own the rights to the biosensor and Aptagen will see a new, potentially lucrative, market for its aptamers. License agreements will likely be negotiated between the University and companies that may be interested in producing the biosensor. Such an agreement will provide revenue to the University and to the inventors, Dr. Cosentino and Rickard, in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. As a diagnostic product the invention will have to undergo FDA approval, prior to any commercial sales. This is a long process. However, when Dr. Cosentino and Rickard file an invention disclosure, the record created helps establish that they were the “first to invent” and protects their standing in securing a patent. Their invention disclosure will be forwarded to PSRF where a technology licensing officer and a patent attorney with experience in bio-medical/bio-technology industry will be assigned to protect their legal rights by preparing a provisional patent application.