On July 7, 2015, it was announced that three teams from the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory are one step closer on the journey to commercializing their innovative discoveries and technology. They have each been selected to receive funding from the University of Chicago Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund awards grants and invests in promising technologies and start-ups created by University of Chicago faculty, students, and staff. Since its inception, the Fund has invested over $3.1 million in 35 projects with high potential for societal and commercial impact. For the Spring 2015 cycle, the Innovation Fund awarded funding to 3F4AP, a PET tracer created to reveal lesions associated with multiple sclerosis during a PET scan; to Therapeutic Human Exosomes, a biologic designed to repair de-myelinated neurons in multiple sclerosis; and to the Array of Things, an urban sensing network of interactive, modular sensor boxes built by Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD. The Array of Things collects real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity, bringing the Internet of Things to the “built environment,” and essentially creating a “fitness tracker” for the city. Details of the three funded projects are provided here. 3F4AP: The 3F4AP team has developed a PET tracer that could help reveal important targeted hallmarks of multiple sclerosis. PET tracers are radioactive molecules that, when injected into a subject, can reveal disease-relevant features such as tumors or lesions in the brain during a PET scan. The team took a drug that is typically used to treat MS (4-aminopyridine) and converted it into a PET tracer, which they believe will help doctors visualize demyelinated lesions in the brain and provide a way to monitor response to new remyelinating therapies. The team, led by Pedro Brugarolas, Ph.D., and Brian Popko, Ph.D. of the Biological Sciences Division, received $225,000 from the Innovation Fund to help test this new imaging approach in non-human primates and in humans. The team was supported by Innovation Fund Associates Ariadne Souroutzidis, Katie Given Ligtenberg, and Lauren Mifflin.
Therapeutic Human Exosomes: Multiple sclerosis (MS) and migraines cost the U.S. $40 billion annually. These interrelated disorders involve myelin damage and increased oxidative stress, processes that prevent brain cells from making new myelin. Richard Kraig, M.D., Ph.D., Aya Pusic, Kae Pusic, and Lisa Won, of the UChicago Biological Sciences Division, have developed a novel biologic – microRNA-containing exosomes from stimulated dendritic cells (SDC-Exos) – that, for the first time, remyelinates damaged brain and prevents migraine. The team received $150,000 to help study the biologic’s effect on multiple sclerosis-based myelin injury in humans and take another step toward clinical trials. The team was supported by Innovation Fund Associates Jenny Lin, Annie Hu, and Thomas Remissong. Dr. Kraig is the William D. Marbie Professor in the Neurosciences at the U. Chicago Medicine and also Director of the Migraine Headache Clinic at U. Chicago Medicine.
The Array of Things: The Urban Center for Computation and Data (UrbanCCD) team is launching an urban sensing project of sensor nodes, known as the Array of Things (AoT). The urban environment, infrastructure, and activity data collected by the network will be openly available and adaptable to local policies and needs, enabling researchers, residents, software developers, and governments to collaborate and make cities more livable, healthy, and efficient. The team received $150,000 from the Innovation Fund and an additional $150,000 in matching funds from Argonne. The team plans to use this funding to grow from pilot to proof-of-concept, continue improving node design and technology, and support the first wave of applications built for the Array of Things data. The UrbanCCD team is led by Charlie Catlett, Peter Beckman, and Kate Kusiak Galvin, of the Computation Institute. The team was supported by Innovation Fund Associates Brian Cheng, Stephen Carrington, John Colson, and Barry Sandall
via University of Chicago Innovation Fund Awards $150,000 to Therapeutic Human Exosome Project for Multiple Sclerosis & Migraine; Two Other Projects Also Receive Significant Funding | www.bioquicknews.com.