Method for isolating circulating epithelial pulmonary cells and their use as markers for diagnosing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • Universidad de Granada
  • From Spain
  • Responsive
  • Patents for licensing

Summary of the technology

A procedure is described based on Liquid Biopsy techniques that allows both the diagnosis of COPD, as well as its evolution in patients.

In order to do that, circulating pulmonary cells (CPCs) that could be present in blood of patients diagnosed with COPD are detected and characterized by combining two different techniques:
- Immunogenetic positive selection for their isolation in peripheral blood.
- Immunocytochemistry for detecting CPCs by using specific markers for pulmonary epithelial cells.

Universidad de Granada

Details of the Technology Offer

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common disease, preventable and treatable, which is characterized by persistent respiratory symptoms and the limitation of air efflux due to anomalies in the respiratory ways and/or alveolar caused by a significant exposition to harmful particles or gases. 

The disease can appear as an inflammatory process, known as Bronchitis, or a process where alveolar destruction can happen, which is known as emphysema, which leads to a reduction in the surface available for exchange. 

In cases there there is alveolar destruction, epithelial cells are exposed to a higher amount of mechanical traumatisms. this, together with the fact that tissue regeneration through mitotic proliferation is not enough, a number of injuries appear, and also there is a chanve that rests of the pulmonary parenchyma and elements of the extracellular matrix can pass to the bloodstream, because the alveolar macrophages are not capable of phagocytize and eliminate the degraded pulmonary material, including both Type I and Type II pneumocytes and surfactant.

One of the characteristics of COPD is that there is a great variability in the loss of the pulmonary function among patients, existing the possibility that the processes that alter the pulmonary maturation during childhood would predispose in a significant way to the development of the disease.

Until today, COPD diagnosis was based in the observation of the clinical symptoms sucha as cough, expectoration and dyspnea, and an analysis of the pulmonary function through spirometry. These symptoms appear once the disease is at an advanced stage.

Based on the premise that the rests of the lung parenchyma can pass to the bloodstream, researchers have developed a diagnosis method that allows the early identification of the individuals that suffer the disease, or that have a high risk in developing it, through the identification of these compounds in blood.

in order to do so, they usea a combination of markers that allow the unequivocal identification of circulating lung cells (intracytoplasmic, nuclear and surface markers).

the technique has a great versatility since, depending on the markers chosen, it could be used for detecting other pathologies that show epithelial damage, such as adenocarcinomas, squamous carcinomas and emphysemas.

It would also allow the detection of early epithelial damage in other body organs where there is a high epithelial renovation rate (liver, kidneys, reproductive organs, guts...) as long as the poper markers for its detections will be used. 


Noninvasive technique, easily reproductible and specific

Early and specific detection of COPD

Possibility of a personalized monitoring of the patient

Is a highly versatile technique: depending on the chosen markers, the technique could be used for detecting other pathologies, such as adenocarcinomas, squamous carcinomas of emphysemas.

The technique might also detect epithelial damage in other vital organs that have a high epithelial renovation rate (liver, reproductive organs...), using specific organs. 


Intellectual property status

  • Patent already applied for
  • Patent application number :P201730724

Related Keywords

  • Biological Sciences
  • Medicine, Human Health
  • Pharmaceutical Products / Drugs
  • Genetic Engineering / Molecular Biology
  • Diagnostic
  • Molecular diagnosis
  • Pulmonary medicine
  • circulating tumor cells
  • copd
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • liquid biopsy
  • predictive factor

About Universidad de Granada

Granada University is one of the most important universities of Spain. The main goal is to transfer technology that our research groups, more than 500, are developing to the industries and companies which are able to take profit from them. It is a general University so Research and Development are offered in different fields like Health Science and Technology, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, Environment and Natural Resources, Biotechnology, Information and Communication Technologies, Social, Economic and Legal Sciences....

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