Dr. Spiess receives grant to develop system for detecting blood protein

Bruce Spiess, MD, FAHA
Bruce Spiess, MD, FAHA

Professor of Anesthesiology Bruce Spiess, MD, FAHA, has received a $15,000 grant from the University of Florida Research Foundation Commercialization Fund to commercially develop point-of-care blood tests to detect a protein that plays an important role in anticoagulation.

Dr. Spiess, who is also Associate Chair of Research, will work on the project, titled “An Aptamer-Based System to Quantify Anti-Thrombin III in Blood,” with Adam Veige, PhD, a Professor in the Department of Chemistry.

Dr. Spiess has a patent pending for a new molecule, or aptamer, that detects the protein antithrombin III, or AT-III, which helps the body regulate bleeding and clotting. The grant will go toward the next steps in developing and commercializing a detection system. This system would result in a new point-of-care device to detect the protein in blood within seconds or minutes.

“I believe that by using such a system, we could design many new point-of-care tests for key proteins that previously had to be studied in a central laboratory,” Dr. Spiess said.

AT-III is needed for anticoagulation in heart surgery and for treatment of patients with COVID-19. Knowing the specific level of the protein could help healthcare providers intervene in various disease states. Specifically, AT-III is a nonspecific buffer of coagulation and inflammation. It is being studied in patients with COVID-19, but it is drastically reduced in trauma as well as in some complex high-risk pregnancies and heart surgeries.

The project is expected to be completed by December 31, 2020.

The University of Florida Research Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes, encourages, and assists with the research activities of university faculty, staff, and students. It provides “a means by which research can be conducted flexibly and efficiently and by which discoveries, inventions, processes and work products of University of Florida faculty, staff and students can be transferred from the laboratory to the public.”