Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Novel epithelial growth factor receptor – targeting peptides for cancer detection

Technology #5992

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Thomas Wang
Managed By
Tiefei Dong
Senior Licensing Specialist, Life Sciences 734-763-5332
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the U.S., causing over 50,000 deaths annually. However, this deadly cancer can be cured through routine screening and diagnosis at early stages. Epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a cell surface marker that stimulates cell growth, proliferation and differentiation. EGFR is overexpressed in several kinds of cancer (compared to normal healthy tissues) including esophageal and colorectal cancers, and can be used to detect and visualize cancerous tissues, and target drugs specifically to these areas.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed novel peptides that specifically target and bind EGFR with high affinity at nanomolar concentrations.

Novel EGFR-targeting peptides for cancer detection

Using in vitro and ex vivo experiments, the inventors have shown that these peptides interact specifically with EGFR targets in esophageal tumor cells and tissues, and bind them rapidly with high affinity. Further, when combined with fluorescent markers and endoscopic imaging techniques, these peptides provide an easy, inexpensive and quantitative method of detecting and diagnosing cancerous tissues, with optimal contrast and minimal toxicity.


  • Peptides allow early detection of wide range of cancers that overexpress EGFR like esophageal, GI, colorectal, breast, neck and head, lung cancers
  • In personalized medicine, EGFR-peptides could be used to determine patient eligibility for specific drugs depending on specific EGFR mutations


  • Peptides exhibit high binding affinity with rapid binding times and are inexpensive to produce
  • High concentrations can be used to maximize binding and contrast with low toxicity risks
  • Small size of peptides allows deep tissue penetration with minimal immunogenicity
  • Can easily detect and visualize multiple targets using range of peptides and fluorophores