News

New Program Funds Five Clemson Technologies For Commercialization

CLEMSON  — The Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF) announced Thursday that it has awarded funding to five Clemson researchers to further develop their Clemson technologies through a newly established program, the CURF Technology Maturation Fund.

“The CURF Technology Maturation Fund is unlike any other source of funding available to Clemson faculty,” said Casey Porto, executive director of CURF. “This funding supports the last critical step that will significantly increase the likelihood of commercialization of Clemson intellectual property.”

Only Clemson faculty members are eligible for the fund while postdoctoral research associates, graduate students and undergraduate students may participate as co-investigators

Winning projects ranged from approximately $20,000 to $36,000 each.

  • Apparao Rao, R.A. Bowen professor of physics and the director of Clemson’s Nanomaterials Research Laboratory, will optimize his roll-to-roll process for carbon nanotube electrode production to make it viable for industrial manufacturing. His team will identify ideal electrolytes, separators and assemble and test prototype devices in collaboration with a commercial partner.
  • Alexey Vertegel, associate professor of bioengineering, has developed a new technology for manufacturing cost-effective natural antioxidants. This patented Clemson technology will be used in a scale-up study to produce two to three tons of antioxidant that can be tested by potential customers to accelerate commercialization.
  • Modi Wetzler, research assistant professor of chemistry, will demonstrate the improved properties of peptides by incorporating his team’s patented pre-PEGylated amino acids and scale-up the synthesis so that there is enough material to distribute to at least 10 collaborators who will, in turn, perform research and publish, thus demonstrating the research market for these new PEGylated amino acids.

The CURF Technology Maturation Fund was established to further enhance the research and innovation culture at Clemson while raising the awareness of Clemson research in the innovation and investment communities. Proposals were solicited through a request for proposals issued by CURF last May. CURF expects to issue another solicitation for proposals next spring.

“We congratulate the Clemson researchers who received funding in the first round of the CURF Technology Maturation Fund,” said CURF board chair Frank Landgraff. “We are excited to support innovation and investment in Clemson research, enabling more Clemson ideas to move from the lab to the marketplace.”

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National Cancer Institute Awards KIYATEC Nearly $2M to Advance Predictive Cancer Diagnostics

Contract Funds 3D Breast Cancer, 3D Brain Cancer Micro-Tumor Development

Greenville, S.C. | September 18, 2014– KIYATEC announced today that it has been awarded a $1.975 million, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II Contract from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Over the course of the two year award, KIYATEC will expand its 3D breast cancer model to address two issues at the forefront of cancer therapy strategies: 1) cancer’s interaction with the patient’s immune system (immuno-oncology) and 2) cancer’s interaction with the patient’s blood supply (angiogenesis). The award will also allow KIYATEC to broaden its technology platform beyond its current use in primary ovarian cancer and breast cancer testing and into glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a type of brain cancer with a five year survival rate that is less than 10 percent. The funded contract has the potential to radically change the future of cancer patient care.

The NCI contract will further KIYATEC’s mission to arm doctors with drug response profiling (DRP) information that indicates how a patient will actually respond to cancer drugs by growing and treating their live cancer cells in a laboratory. This will allow the doctor to choose the best drug for that particular patient based on prediction of their response, before the patient starts therapy. KIYATEC applies a unique approach by using 3D cell culture techniques designed to maximize the accuracy of that prediction, thus also maximizing the patient’s treatment outcome and benefit. The approach also translates to late stage “pre-clinical” drug screening, wherein pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are deciding which drug among a short list of final candidates to advance into a clinical trial for use with patients.

“This contract is exciting because it recognizes the great potential of our technology, team and strategy to have significant impact on drug development and clinical care.” said Matt Gevaert, Ph.D., KIYATEC’s CEO. “The immediate impact will be to use our 3D breast and GBM models to identify the most active therapies prior to being tested in patients, but our ultimate goal is to use our 3D micro-tumors as a diagnostic in a clinical trial setting or for real-time clinical decision-making by oncologists.” The KIYATEC team on the contract is led by Hal Crosswell, MD, KIYATEC’s chief medical officer and contract principal investigator, and Tessa DesRochers, Ph.D., a principal scientist at KIYATEC and the contract’s co-principal investigator.

KIYATEC’s success in this project would expand the number of options oncologists have to more effectively fight cancer alongside their patients. For example, the growing field of immuno-oncology seeks to reduce cancer associated inflammation or harness the body’s innate ability to generate an effective immune response against tumor cells. Recreating these delicate relationships is complicated and involves creating living, interacting versions of both the patient’s tumor and their immune system, which is difficult to do in conventional 2D and mouse models and is a goal of KIYATEC’s award. “Clever incorporation of this kind of complex biology, for example inflammation and the immune system, into our collective tool belt has the potential to completely transform how we treat cancer,” said Larry Gluck, MD, medical director of Greenville Health System’s Cancer Institute. “Working in conjunction with the GHS Institute for Translational Oncology Research, KIYATEC is well positioned to help individualize therapy and markedly increase the effectiveness of the therapies we administer.”

The SBIR program provides federal funding to small Research/R&D businesses that have a potential for commercialization. In September 2013, KIYATEC was awarded an approximately $295,000 Phase I NCI SBIR contract upon which this larger Phase II contract builds. The Phase II contract is being funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services under Contract No. HHSN261201400019C.

For more information on KIYATEC visit http://www.kiyatec.com/.

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Three Clemson StartUps Get Funding To Grow

Naren Vyavahare works with an atomic absorption spectrometer used in tissue regeneration research.
Naren Vyavahare works with an atomic absorption spectrometer used in tissue regeneration research.

CLEMSON — Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF) announced that three Clemson startup companies have each received $25,000 in seed money from the University Sponsored Application Program (USAP) offered by SC Launch.

The three companies, VRM Labs LLC, ConnectTiss LLC and Additive Drug Delivery LLC are located in South Carolina’s Upstate and have licensed or optioned Clemson-owned intellectual property as the basis for their company.

SC Launch grows new technology companies in South Carolina and attracts existing companies to the state, advancing the knowledge economy.

“These companies are building their core business around technology invented at Clemson and CURF’s role, in addition to protecting Clemson intellectual property, is to work with the startup to get a license or option in place and then help them to identify early-stage funding, such as the USAP program at SC Launch,” said Casey Porto, CURF executive director.

VRM Labs is commercializing a novel Clemson technology for manufacturing cost-effective natural food preservatives for applications in pet food and animal feed industries.

“We created a simple process of producing the antioxidant named ‘Prot-X’ that is as efficient as synthetic antioxidants while at the same time cheaper than other natural antioxidants,” said Alexey Vertegel, chief executive officer of VRM Labs and associate professor of bioengineering at Clemson.

ConnecTiss LLC, a Greenville-based company, is using technology, also developed at Clemson, to improve aging skin.

“Today’s market is overrun with products that claim to eradicate the telltale signs of aging for people searching for elusive youth, but people are only as young as their elastin,” according to Naren Vyavahare, co-founder of ConnecTiss LLC and Hunter Endowed Chair of Bioengineering at Clemson.

“Our technology takes a more innovative approach,” Vyavahare said. “We have discovered and patented compounds that, when delivered to the site of elastin deterioration, bind tightly to native elastic fibers and block enzyme attacks, thus preventing elastin degradation.”

ConnecTiss, LLC plans use this technology to create a cosmeceutical product that can be applied directly to the skin, allowing for compounds to be released at the site of elastin degeneration to prevent further loss.

Additive Drug Delivery, LLC enhances existing sutures and surgical meshes with the ability to continually deliver medication for up to three months. This technology is a joint intellectual property commercialized by CURF and Medical University of South Carolina Foundation for Research Development.

“We are integrating technology developed jointly at Clemson and Medical University of South Carolina into existing textile products, such as hernia meshes, adding antimicrobial activity by simply swapping the type of fiber used,” said Cody Reynolds, postdoctoral scholar at Clemson, chief technology officer and co-founder of Additive Drug Delivery, LLC. “The technology uses a novel, low-temperature, non-toxic and environmentally friendly method of drug delivery that allows the device to release consistent quantities throughout a three-month period.”

Porto says, “the spirit of collaboration between MUSC and Clemson serves our state well by combining resources to study and ultimately to solve the great challenges of our times.”

“We welcome these companies to the SC Launch program,” said SCRA CEO Bill Mahoney. “These USAP funds help early-stage start-up companies take their research from the lab to the marketplace, and ultimately help to further South Carolina’s Knowledge Economy. We extend our sincere congratulations to these three companies, and look forward to many future successes.”

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Technology Maturation Fund Program Request for Proposals (RFP Date:   May 9, 2014 -  Response Deadline:   June 30, 2014)

The Technology Maturation Fund, a program managed by the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF), is unlike any other source of funding available to Clemson faculty. The purpose of this funding is solely to support the last critical step that will significantly increase the likelihood of commercialization of Clemson intellectual property. Click on Technology Maturation Fund May 2014 for more information.


KIYATEC names Board Chairman

KIYATEC Inc. has appointed Bob Silverman as Board Chairman of the company.  Mr. Silverman has been a member of the company’s Board of Directors since 2012.  Click here to read the full press release.

Clemson Call Me MISTER Program Receives Funding

Clemson University’s Call Me MISTER program has received $1.3 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) of Battle Creek, Michigan, to collaborate with Jackson State University (JSU) to increase the number of African-American male teachers in Mississippi K-8 classrooms.  Read more here.

Clemson team a finalist in worldwide Breast Cancer Start-up Challenge

A Clemson University team made up of bioengineering and business administration students were named finalists in a challenge to accelerate commercialization and spur entrepreneurship.  The team created a business plan for an invention that provides a new approach to tissue regeneration following breast cancer surgery that may one day change the way doctors treat the disease.  Read the full story here.

Clemson honors its top inventors and patent recipients

CLEMSON — Inventors, entrepreneurs and industry representatives gathered Tuesday at the Madren Conference Center for a university and industry networking reception honoring Clemson University’s top inventors and 2012 patent recipients.

Hosted by the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF) and the Clemson Inventor’s Club, the event recognized researchers whose contributions in biomedical devices, biotechnology (sustainable environment), semiconductors and health generated 15 U.S. patents in calendar year 2012. They added to the current Clemson patent catalog of 168 active U.S. and foreign patents available for licensing and commercialization.

In addition to the patent recognition, the event featured a presentation by Anthony Boccanfuso, executive director of the National Academies’ University-Industry Demonstration Partnership, titled “A perspective on the University/Industry Collaborative Research Model.”

Formed in November 2012, the Clemson Inventor’s Club recognizes Clemson’s most active inventors and faculty entrepreneurs across colleges and disciplines and provides opportunities for them to connect and share ideas with each other and others in the intellectual property and commercialization sectors and introduce Clemson discoveries to the marketplace.

Discussion topics included entrepreneurship, invention and intellectual property, sponsored research, small business research funding opportunities and pure and simple networking to continue to foster the culture of innovation that already exists at Clemson.

“Feedback from past club events indicate that the faculty are as interested in meeting each other and learning about the innovative research going on in their own backyard as they are in meeting others from the business community,” said Casey Porto, executive director of  the Research Foundation.  “The club structure is really meant to be organic – just bring the innovators together with community business mentors and investors, step back and see what happens.”

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New CURF Intern Analysts

New this year, CURF has created a talented Tech Analyst team by tapping into Clemson Graduate students and the engineering co-op program. The analysts have proven technical skills combined with interest in helping CURF identify and protect promising technologies and move them to commercial sector. Click here to read more.

KIYATEC Awarded National Cancer Institute Contract to Establish Predictive 3D Breast Cancer Model

Contract awarded under the Small Business Innovative Research (“SBIR”) Program to establish patient-derived, 3D micro‐tumors designed to be used to screen  anticancer drugs during development and to test patient‐derived samples in real time to assist clinical decision making

GREENVILLE, South Carolina, Oct 24, 2013 ‐‐ KIYATEC Inc. (www.kiyatec.com) today announced that the National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH), awarded the company an approximately $295,000 Phase I SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) contract to establish 3D breast cancer models using living cells obtained directly from breast cancer patients. Accurate modeling of the response of a patient’s cancer to a drug will help them in two ways – to reduce failures of anticancer drugs during clinical trials because of earlier, more relevant information on drug effectiveness, and to test patient‐derived samples in real time for clinical decision making specific to that individual. 

Read more here or visit www.kiyatec.com to learn more about KIYATEC Inc.

Organovo Pushes to the Sci-Fi Frontier: Printing Human Organs

INC., April 18, 2013
Special Report: The 25 Most Audacious Companies
| Inc.com staff

 MADE TO ORDER  The Novogen mmX Bioprinter builds tissue with real human cells.

Kidneys, livers, whatever, made to order in a lab. With Organovo’s 3-D printing technology, it’s possible.

Right now in the United States, nearly 120,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant. Among them, 95,000 are waiting for a kidney, 15,000 need a liver, and 3,000 must get a heart. Depending on age, blood type, and ethnicity, these patients will wait anywhere from a few months to a few years for an organ–and some won’t get it in time.

Keith Murphy, CEO of the biomedical engineering start-up Organovo, thinks there’s a better answer: 3-D bioprinting. Doctors could create an organ in a lab precisely when it’s needed.

“Surgeons are very limited by what they have available today,” Murphy says. “If you can give them tissue to order, you can multiply, exponentially, the types of surgery that we can even envision doing. And if you could do it with a patient’s own cells, surgeons could go places they haven’t gone before.”

They’re printing what?

Professor Gabor Forgacs and his team at the University of Missouri, Columbia, developed Organovo’s technology and founded the company in 2007. Since then, Organovo has made startling progress in the tissue engineering field. Unlike other tissue engineering methods, which make use of polymers–biomaterials that create structure and bond to cells–Organovo’s NovoGen MMX Bioprinter uses human cells and shapes them into real tissue.

It may sound like science fiction, but it’s all possible through a carefully controlled engineering feat.

As with any 3-D printer, lasers guide the production of each tissue. But instead of ink or plastic molding, the printer ejects a liquid filled with thousands of human cells. The process repeats, creating multiple “stacks” of cell layers, and a noninvasive gel holds the stacks together.

Then, cell biology kicks in: The cells assemble themselves as they would in a developing human body and mature, finally, into actual tissue.

Race to market

To be sure, Organovo isn’t the only team working on 3-D bioprinting and tissue engineering. Academic institutions around the country, including Columbia, Cornell, and Wake Forest, have scores of researchers devoted to this very concept. But experts in the field point to Organovo’s progress.

“These kinds of surgical tools have been lacking for a long time,” says Dr. G. Sitta Sittampalam, a senior adviser and project manager at the National Institutes of Health and an expert in cell pharmacology and 3-D tissues. “This is very important.”

To date, Organovo has used the technology to conduct research on liver cells and collaborated with both private enterprises and academic institutions (Pfizer and Harvard Medical School, for instance) to test tissue samples. In 2012, the company received multiple patents.

The biggest challenge in tissue engineering is thickness: Ultimately, Murphy says, going from tissues that are 1 millimeter thick to 5 millimeters thick will be harder than going from 5-millimeter tissue to building an organ. “We’re still a couple years off,” Murphy says, “but we’re moving forward.”

Clemson I-Corps Teams march to the head of the pack

Clemson University College of Engineering and Science I-Corps teams took the top two spots in a presentation competition in Atlanta. The National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program fosters entrepreneurship that could lead to the commercialization of technology that has been supported by NSF-funded research.  Read the entire release here:  http://www.clemson.edu/media-relations/4507

Clemson Recognized for 3D Printing Technology

3D printing is an expanding technology in the biomedical industry, and Clemson researchers have played a role in its advancement.  This technology enables scientists to utilize an inkjet printer to print tissues such as blood vessels, knee cartilage, and bone implants, to name a few.  Read the whole story here.

Taking the Bite Out of Weight Loss

Clemson professors Eric Muth and Adam Hoover created a device that may help people re-think their food choices, and how much of it they’re willing to consume.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=M0BlNBq2AWo