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Press Release - June 4, 2019

Ceres Nanosciences, University of Virginia, and George Mason University  receive $600K award from the Virginia Catalyst to develop a Nanotrap® liquid biopsy collection device

MANASSAS, Va. — June 4, 2019 — Ceres Nanosciences, Inc. (Ceres), University of Virginia (UVA), and George Mason University (Mason) today announced the receipt of a $600,000 award from the Virginia Catalyst for the development of a Nanotrap® liquid biopsy collection device. This award will be matched by $1.2 million in product development funding by Ceres Nanosciences.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death world-wide and the global cancer burden is expected to grow to 23.6 million new cancer cases by 2030. Tissue biopsies are the current gold standard for detecting and obtaining information about cancer. By collecting cells from tumors, doctors can determine if cancer is present and can provide information on the type of cancer, the patient prognosis, and treatment options. But tissue biopsies require surgery, making them risky, costly, and painful. This means that repeat tissue biopsies on patients is a difficult and impractical method for monitoring tumors as they develop and change over time.

Recent advances, however, have led to the development of a “liquid biopsy” which enables analysis of tumor material—like circulating tumor DNA or proteins — directly from bodily fluids like blood or urine. Unfortunately, the amount of circulating tumor DNA or other tumor material in fluids like blood is frequently below the limits of detection of current molecular assays.


About Ceres Nanosciences, Inc.

Ceres Nanosciences is a privately held company, located in Prince William County, Virginia, focused on incorporating its novel Nanotrap® particle technology into a range of diagnostic and research products and workflows. The Nanotrap® particle technology can improve diagnostic testing by capturing, concentrating, and preserving low abundance analytes from biological samples. The Nanotrap® particle technology was developed with support from the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Schmidt Futures, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Learn more, including how Ceres is partnering with leading life science, bio-pharmaceutical, and diagnostic companies at


Press Contact:

Ross M. Dunlap

Ceres Nanosciences, Inc

1.800.615.0418 ext. 202

About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 37,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the last half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility. Mason’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine  (CAPMM) creates new technologies and makes basic science discoveries in the field of disease pathogenesis, then applies these discoveries and technologies to create and implement strategies for disease prevention, early diagnosis and individualized therapy. Learn more at or">


Press Contact:

Tracy Mason

George Mason University, College of Science



About University of Virginia Health System

UVA Health System is an academic health system that includes a 612-bed hospital, the UVA School of Medicine, a level I trauma center, nationally recognized cancer and heart centers and primary and specialty clinics throughout Central Virginia. UVA is recognized for excellence by U.S. News & World Report, Best Doctors in America and America's Top Doctors.


Press Contact:

Joshua Barney

University of Virginia Health System



“The liquid biopsy tests currently in clinical use are revolutionizing cancer diagnostics,” said Eli Williams, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Associate Director of Genomics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “But the tumor DNA circulating around in the blood is a tiny, often undetectable fraction of the DNA in a patient’s sample.  We need new technologies that can improve the collection of tumor DNA in blood.”


“Ceres has demonstrated the clinical utility of the Nanotrap® technology in multiple infectious diseases,” said Ross Dunlap, CEO of Ceres Nanosciences. “Which is why we are very excited to partner with UVA and Mason to develop a Nanotrap® liquid biopsy collection device that will isolate, concentrate, and preserve tumor DNA from biological samples for improved cancer diagnosis.”


“The Virginia Catalyst program is a fantastic and unique resource available to Virginia biosciences companies and researchers,” said Emanuel “Chip” Petricoin, University Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine at George Mason University, and a co-inventor of the background Nanotrap® technology. “We are extremely honored to be chosen as awardees for this high-impact product development effort.”


Project Team Members: Ben Lepene (Ceres), Dr. Eli Williams (UVA), and Stephanie Barksdale (Ceres)

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