NEW YORK – Aethlon Medical announced on Monday that it has received a $1.9 million award from the National Cancer Institute.
The two-year, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract will fund development and optimization of Aethlon's Hemopurifier, a benchtop device that isolates exosomes from biofluids for applications in cancer research and clinical care.
Exosomes are membrane-bound, extracellular vesicles that carry nucleic acids and proteins. They're often shed by tumor cells. Specifically, Aethlon will attempt to isolate melanoma exosomes for diagnostics and treatment monitoring, although the firm said in a statement it expects the work to be applicable to other cancer types.
San Diego-based Aethlon is the majority shareholder of Exosome Sciences, which is developing diagnostic assays with biomarkers found in exosomes. The firm said the Hemopurifier received the US Food and Drug Administration's "Breakthrough Device" designation in 2018.
The new contract builds on technology developed by Aethlon with a $299,250 SBIR Phase 1 contract awarded in 2017. According to the Phase 1 award abstract, the Hemopurifier uses a two-stage approach to purifying tumor-derived vesicles and separating them from other tissue-derived vesicles.
Under the contract, the firm plans to collaborate with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.