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The Ryan Foundation commits additional $2.5 million to Boys Town National Research Hospital

The Ryan Foundation recently committed to donate an additional $2.5 million to Boys Town National Research Hospital of Omaha in June of 2022.

The Ryan Foundation previously donated $2.6 million for research at the national hospital over the past two years. These additional grant funds will be used to continue the research investigating the molecular basis of childhood disorders at the Molecular Diagnostic Research Laboratory of the Boys Town National Research Hospital

Some of the major accomplishments by the Molecular Diagnostic Research Laboratory over the past two years include:

1. The development of a rapid and non-invasive method for personalized genetic testing of an infant patient at risk for developing a hereditary hearing loss and blindness-related disorders such as Usher syndrome, Pendred syndrome, Jervell syndrome, and Lange-Nielsen syndrome. Boys Town has submitted a patent application for this invention.

2. The discovery of a few differently regulated miRNAs in hereditary hearing loss and blindness patients using microarray technology and droplet digital PCR technology. Currently research is under way to develop cost-effective screening tests based on droplet digital PCR technology for hearing loss and blindness.

3. The development of a reagent composition to precipitate nucleic acids in biological fluids which will improve nucleic acid extraction efficiency from biological fluids and provide a cost-effective way for long term storage of nucleic acids in biological fluids. Boys Town is preparing a patent application for this invention.

4. The lab started a project to develop a non-invasive genetic test for human autism spectrum disorder using next generation sequencing. The lab is also conducting research to discover miRNA biomarkers for autism spectrum disorder so that we can develop cost-effective screening tests for this disease.

5. Another project undertaken was a study designed to evaluate a chemical compound for its ability to inhibit thioredoxin reductase enzyme in mammalian cells. Thioredoxin reductase is overexpressed in many types of cancer cells and this novel chemical compound inhibit thioredoxin reductase enzyme in cancer cells. By inhibiting thioredoxin reductase enzyme this compound inhibits cancer cell growth and proliferation. The results of this study show that this new compound has the potential to be used as an anti-cancer agent.

6. Studies will continue of blood plasma extracellular vesicles as a source of biomarkers for cancer diagnosis. Currently the laboratory is conducting research to characterize macromolecules present in extracellular vesicles.

“Investigating the molecular basis of childhood disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, hearing loss, and pediatric tumors amongst others, is a perfect fit for our translational research efforts and the intersect between clinical and research excellence. In striving every day to live up to Boys Town’s mission of Changing the way America cares for children and families, our scientists must continue to innovate and excel in areas that move our clinical models of care forward and become exportable to the care of all children.” – Jason C. Bruce Director, Boys Town National Research Hospital

Boys Town held a special place in the hearts of Dr. and Mrs. Ryan. They often attended mass on Sundays at Boys Town where they met and became close friends with Fr. Val Peter and Sr. Marie Gross-Rhodes. Boys Town was not only a place of worship for the Ryan’s, but an organization they supported in their efforts to expand their charitable reach into healthcare and research.