Cornell University

Get the latest news on Cornell Technologies, CTL Events, and startups based on licensed Cornell technologies by following CTL on Twitter @Cornell_CTL.

CTL eNewsletter: February 2010

Cornell startup Coferon, Developing a Novel Platform for Drug Discovery Representing a New Way to Make Drugs

Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY - Coferon, Inc., a startup company founded by Drs. Francis Barany and Maneesh Pingle of Weill Cornell Medical College and Don Bergstrom of Purdue University, is developing a novel platform for making a new type of drug to reach targets that cannot be modulated by current drug technologies. Current drugs work by interacting with target proteins in our bodies and changing surrounding physiological or biochemical processes, hence, “treating” the disease. Today’s approved drugs are limited in their ability to reach drug targets inside the cell, in part, because of the size of the drug molecules. Currently, an estimated eighty percent of known drug targets are “undruggable” since large molecule therapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies (MABs) are too large to enter the cell, and traditional small molecules, while they can enter the cell, are too small to disrupt target protein-protein interactions.


The vision of the Coferon platform is to develop orally active drugs that act like small drug molecules, can permeate cell membranes, and once inside, can assemble into larger molecules to behave more like biologics. Coferon, Inc. is named after Barany and Bergstrom’s invention of Coferons, self-assembling small molecule drugs that combine inside a cell to interfere with large molecule interactions. The ability of small molecules to disrupt large molecule target protein-protein interactions inside the cells has been described as one of the single most important underserved opportunities in pharmaceutical development by many in the industry, and the Coferon platform could be a breakthrough for addressing this problem.

Coferon, Inc. is developing a novel platform for making a new type of drug to reach targets that cannot be modulated by current drug technologies.

Coferon, Inc. is headquartered in New York. The company continues to work very closely with both universities, has more than 10 full time employees and consultants, and has collaborators in the US and overseas for chemistry and other laboratory work. The management team consists of founding and acting CEO Derek Small, an entrepreneur who has started multiple biotechnology companies; and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Lee Arnold, a pharmaceutical industry veteran from Pfizer and OSI Pharmaceuticals, inventor of the blockbuster cancer drug Tarceva® and several other new drug candidates in clinical development. The company was successfully launched with seed financing from private investors and is presently considering interests from both venture capital and pharmaceutical partnerships to further advance the Coferon platform.

The company has partnered with Cornell to license two of the foundational patents. Both patents cover a broad landscape of novel self-assembly chemistry for this new way to make drugs.

If you would like to know more about Coferon Inc., please contact Brian Kelly at

Portable, Low-Cost Ultrasonic Treatment for Chronic Pain

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY - Cornell startup, ZetrOZ, is building the first and only wearable pain therapy system which uses ultrasound to lower pain, increase mobility, and heal injuries without the use of drugs. They’ve created working prototypes of disposable, band-aid sized ultrasound patches that pain sufferers can wear during daily activities to ease chronic or everyday pain. More than 80 million people in the U.S. suffer from arthritis, strained muscles or swollen joints. Although powerful pain relief treatment methods such as ultrasound heat technology are available in medical centers, doctor’s offices or physical therapy programs, most patients can’t use ultrasound therapy at home or on-the-go since ultrasound units are bulky, expensive and difficult to administer. Also, the current ultrasound treatments in medical centers provide only short intervals of therapeutic sound waves. As a result, most people in pain simply endure it or rely on somewhat ineffective at-home remedies such as analgesic heat rub or ice packs.


Cornell startup ZetrOZ is building a pain therapy therapy patch the size of a bandaid which uses ultrasound to lower pain, increase mobility, and heal injuries without the use of drugs.


ZetrOZ’s innovative use of sound waves in therapeutic applications is based on ultrasonic technology developed by George Lewis and William Olbricht of the College of Engineering. The idea to form a company and commercialize this ultrasonic technology took shape when Bryant Guffey, MBA student at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management met co-inventor, George Lewis, at an outreach event organized and hosted by CCTEC. Upon realizing the potential for low-cost, portable ultrasound pain treatment, they founded ZetrOZ and licensed the technology from CCTEC. They have since won the most investable technology award from the Syracuse Tech Garden, were awarded a Jumpstart grant sponsored by NYSTAR, and placed in the top 10 in the CIMIT Primary Healthcare competition. Utilizing resources from the Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC), ZetrOZ has been able to quickly transfer the technology from the laboratory bench top to the doctor’s office through trials of their new devices on people with chronic pain conditions of the knee.

Other products planned for future development at ZetrOZ include a drug delivery system to increase liquid absorption of medicines and cosmeceuticals, a non-invasive surgical system for removing tumors or unwanted varicose veins, a water treatment system which has the potential to significantly lower maintenance costs of large scale water desalination plants, and an ultrasound adapter which extends battery life.

To learn more about ZetrOZ, contact Jeff Fearn at


Upcoming Events

IP & Pizza™, Johnson Graduate School of Management

Date: March 5, 2010
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
Location: Sage Hall

Join CCTEC and the Johnson Graduate School of Management for a discussion on Cornell's Invention and Related Property Rights Policy.

To view the policy, click here.

IP & Pizza™, Family Life Development Center, College of Human Ecology

Date: March 9, 2010
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
Location: Beebe Hall

Join CCTEC and the Family Life Development Center of the College of Human Ecology for a discussion on copyright issues related to web trainings and web site development. This event is sponsored by Hodgson Russ LLP.


Upstate New York Biocareer Connection

Date: March 16, 2010
Time: 12:45PM - 5:00PM
Location: TC3 Campus, Dryden, NY

Interested in finding out what Upstate NY has to offer in the field of bioscience? The Upstate NY Biocareer Connection will feature four panels focused on the various careers available in the life sciences. Also, exhibitors from across the region will be at the event to share information and opportunities.


Seminar & Social Hour™

Date: March 30, 2010
Time: 5:30PM - 7:00PM
Location: CCTEC Office Suite, 395 Pine Tree Road

Learn about an exciting new Cornell technology over hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Professor Michael King, Biomedical Engineering, will be speaking about cancer treatments.

CCTEC New Business & Emerging Technology Showcase™

Date: April 15, 2010
Time: 1:00PM - 3:00PM
Location: Statler Hotel Ballroom

The CCTEC New Business & Emerging Technology Showcase will highlight exciting new Cornell technologies and unique business opportunities from both the Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medical College. This showcase is part of the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration event.


Visit the Celebration web site by clicking here.


Inventions Roundtable™ - Medical Devices

Date: April 16, 2010
Time: 9:00AM - 12:45PM
Location: CCTEC Office Suite, 395 Pine Tree Road

This event will feature emerging medical device technology presentations. Invited guests will provide feedback on the technologies in the areas of applications and marketability.

Seminar & Social Hour™

Date: April 19, 2010
Time: 5:30PM - 7:00PM
Location: CCTEC Office Suite, 395 Pine Tree Road

Learn about an exciting new Cornell technology over hors d'oeuvres and drinks. Professor Tom Brenna, Division of Nutritional Science will be presenting "Branched Chain Fatty Acids: A Novel Dietary Supplement for Intestinal Health".

Recent Events

Inventions Roundtable™ - Molecular Diagnostics

Date: February 25, 2010

This event featured four Weill Cornell Medical College inventor presentations in the area of molecular diagnostics. Invited guests provided feedback on the technologies in the areas of marketability and applications.

The presentations included:

  • Theranostic Test to Guide Antidepressant Drug Selection
    Francis Lee, Department of Psychiatry
  • Gene Panels to Provide Prognosis for Colon Cancer
    Francis Barany, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Predicting Disease Aggressiveness in Acute Mycloid Leukemia Patients
    Ari Melnick, Department of Medicine
  • Assessing Acute Rejection in Kidney Transplants
    Manikkam Suthanthiran, Department of Medicine

Click here to view photos from the event.

IP & Pasta™, Division of Hematology/Medical Oncology, Weill Cornell Medical College

Date: February 24, 2010

Attendees enjoyed pasta while they learned about protecting intellectual property that may come out of their research.  Plus, they had a chance to ask the questions they always wanted answers to about Cornell's Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization (CCTEC), technology transfer, and intellectual property issues.

This event was sponsored by Kalow & Springut LLP.

Click here to view a photo from the event.

Seminar & Social Hour™

Date: February 22, 2010

Serhan Ardanuc, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering, presented "All-Angle Latchable Reflector (ALAR) Tiles" to attendees while they enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and beverages.

Click here to view a photo from the event.

Entrepreneurship Seminar Series - Raising Money

Date: February 19, 2010

Seminar Topic: Raising Money - Getting from Business Plan to a Funded Company. The seminar speaker was Steven Gal, Visiting Associate Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship at The Johnson School

IP & Pizza™

Date: February 18, 2010

Attendees learned about how a discovery becomes an invention over free pizza. This event was sponsored by Clark & Elbing LLP.

Click here to view a photo from the event.

IP & Pizza™, Faculty of Computing & Information Science

Date: December 8, 2009

CCTEC, along with the Faculty of Computing and Information Science, held a discussion on software intellectual property issues. Pizza and salad was available. This event was sponsored by Weingarten, Schurgin, Gagnebin & Lebovici.

Click here to view a photo from the event.

Entrepreneurship Seminar Series - Idea Validation & Opportunity Assessment

Date: November 20, 2009

Idea Validation & Opportunity Assessment - Get it Right, Don't Chase Ghosts, Slay the Market! Event speaker was Ted Julian, a well-known high-tech entrepreneur.

Seminar & Social Hour™

Date: November 3, 2009

Jonathan Butcher, Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering, presented his "Device for Mechanical Biopsy of Soft Tissue" while attendees enjoyed beer, wine, and hors d'oeuvres.

Click here to view photos from the event.