Three university-based technologies secure translational state funding awards
Three university-based projects, working through Case Western Reserve University's Technology Transfer Office (TTO), secured translational state funding awards from the Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-Up Fund (TVSF) and I-Corps@Ohio, both designed to help researchers assess and build on the commercial potential of their new ideas and inventions.
The TVSF award provides funding to move technology developed by Ohio universities and other nonprofit research institutions through testing and prototyping into the marketplace. The goal is to license the technology to start-up and early-stage companies.
I-Corps@Ohio provides hands-on training to faculty and graduate students to understand the technology commercialization process and the market potential of their technologies. The program is an initiative of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
All three funded projects are potentially life-changing:
• Imaging software that can distinguish between brain tumor and benign effects of radiation treatment.
• A device that protects against infection from contamination through IV ports.
• Technology that tests babies for Cystic Fibrosis faster and easier than existing methods.
Pallavi Tiwari, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the School of Medicine and an associate member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, is leading the development of imaging software, NeuroRadVision, that distinguishes between a recurrent brain tumor and benign effects of radiation, which can appear similar on a routine MRI scan, resulting in unnecessary surgeries.
The researchers estimate that 30,000 unnecessary brain surgeries are performed annually in the United States and more than 100,000 worldwide because of this issue.
James D. Reynolds, associate professor of anesthesiology and a member of the Institute for Transformative Molecular Medicine, and James R. Rowbottom, professor and chair of the anesthesiology department at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, are leading a team that is developing a port sterilizer to reduce the number of catheter-related bloodstream infections.
Patients can get infections from the catheters placed in their arteries and veins. To reduce infection risks, the catheter injection ports are supposed to be wiped with an alcohol swab before a needle is inserted and medication administered. This is an effective but time-consuming cleaning method because the process must be repeated each time the port is used. Swabbing compliance is known to be poor, increasing the likelihood of patients getting infected from the catheter.
The team developed a sterile strip dispenser that clips over the injection port. The device is easy to use and, more importantly, would eliminate the need for manually swabbing the port before each use. Senior biomedical engineering students were integral in designing an initial prototype, using equipment at the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box].
Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Miklos Gratzl is developing a low-cost, hand-held device to diagnose Cystic fibrosis (CF). The genetic disease occurs when mucus obstructs the pancreatic ducts, blocks nutrients from the intestines and obstructs airways, thereby causing recurring pneumonia. Treatment must be started immediately in newborns to avoid irreversible damage.
Current testing methods use an infant’s sweat. However, about 20 percent of infants less than 3 months old are unable to produce enough sweat to test accurately and must undergo further diagnostic testing. This means a delay of weeks and sometimes months until they can produce enough sweat to test. These methods also produce a high rate of inaccurate results.
Gratzl’s design uses much smaller samples of sweat, which can be obtained even from two-week-old babies, and is extremely accurate.