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CTL eNewsletter: July 2008

New Hope for Asthma Sufferers

Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY- Asthma and related bronchial conditions occur when airways constrict, making it difficult for sufferers to breathe. A team led by Dr. Roberto Levi, Professor of Pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College and Dr. Randi Silver, Professor of Physiology and Biophysics and Associate Dean of Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, has shown in animal models that asthma may be triggered by an enzyme called renin that is released from lung mast cells. Previously renin was believed to be made only in the kidneys. Renin is the rate-limiting step, (or slowest step in a chemical reaction), in the formation of angiotensin, a protein involved in high blood pressure, cancer, and a host of fibrotic diseases. Mast cells are located in major organs and have long been known to be involved in asthma, allergies, and other immune system-related conditions; some asthma drugs currently on the market target mast cells.

Mast cells in the lung

Mast cells in the lung

What has been unclear to date is how organs could make angiotensin without involving the kidneys and the body's general circulation system. Levi and Silver found that all mast cells in the body have the ability to synthesize and secrete renin, triggering local renin-angiotensin systems. Local angiotensin formation by lung mast cells causes bronchoconstriction, hence its link to asthma.

This work opens the door for new ways to treat asthma. Compounds that prevent renin release could minimize asthma attacks. This research opens the possibility that asthmatics could benefit from renin inhibitors originally developed to treat hypertension. Some of these compounds could prove to be effective for asthma if re-formulated as aerosols.

Contact Bruce Toman at for more information.

Inventions Roundtable™ Brings Together Inventors and Industry

Ithaca, NY - In May, representatives from industry with expertise and/or interest in the area of central nervous system (CNS) diseases gathered at CCTEC at an Inventors Roundtable™ event to evaluate CNS-related technologies presented by Cornell inventors. In attendance were Howard Fillit of the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, Heather Erickson of MedTech, Dominick Danna of Blue Highway LLC, Carl Jaramillo of Draper Fisher Jurvetson Mercury, Mitchell Patterson of the Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York, and Jeff Furst of Transonic Systems. Cornell faculty presenting were Dr. Bill Olbricht, College of Engineering, Dr. Margaret Bynoe, College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Linda Nicholson of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Margaret Bynoe presenting

The technologies presented related to therapeutics and drug delivery methods for treatment of CNS diseases. Dr. Olbricht shared information on a microfabricated catheter that provides a better method for drug delivery to the brain. Dr. Bynoe presented data on how to modulate blood-brain permeability through her work on a mouse model of multiple sclerosis. Dr. Nicholson introduced a novel approach to discover and develop new therapetuics for Alzheimer's disease and presented newly identified small molecule drug candidates. "I believe that other scientists can benefit from exposure to candid feedback from industry," said Dr. Bynoe. Additional Inventors Roundtable events are planned for the fall.

Cornell inventors and people in industry who would like the opportunity to share industry feedback on their technologies should contact Laura Cima Salter at

Join the Cornell BioPharma Network

Cornellboration® is a suite of free, industry-specific social networking sites where Cornellians can learn, network, converse, find solutions, post information, and blog. Cornellboration® consists of Cornell BioPharma Network, a password-protected site for Cornellians who are interested in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. Coming this fall, Cornell NanoMat Network will focus on the physical sciences industry, particularly nanotechnology and materials. All Cornellians (students, faculty, staff and alumni) interested in seeking business and academic collaborations are welcome to join the Cornellboration® networking sites.

The Cornellboration® suite is developed and maintained by the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization (CCTEC).

Visit to sign up.


Upcoming Events

Cornell Technology Venture Forum™ 2008

Date: October 16, 2008
Time: 9:00AM - 8:00PM
Location: Room G10 Biotech Building

The 2008 Cornell Technology Venture Forum (CTVF) will consist of technology and company presentations, poster presentations, networking opportunities, and a lunch discussion, followed by a reception. This annual event encourages technology enterpreneurship and commercialization by showcasing the best and brightest technologies and companies coming from Cornell's research. Both Cornell faculty from the Ithaca Campus and Cornell Weill Medical College will present technologies in the areas of medical devices, research tools, diagnostic technologies, materials science, semiconductors, computer science, electrical engineering, nanotechnologies, information science, environmental science, and energy technologies.

Recent Events

Boot Camp

Date: June 5, 2008

Boot Camp was a day-long event that ended in a networking cocktail reception and dinner for attendees. The program for the Bootcamp consisted of panels of life sciences and physical sciences experts discussing their experiences starting companies. A third panel presented legal and operational issues that could impact a startup company. The key note lunch speaker was John Alexander,'74, founder of The CBORD Group.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Inventions Roundtable™ - Central Nervous System Therapeutics & Drug Delivery

Date: June 10, 2008

Inventions Roundtable was a half-day event that showcased Cornell technologies in the area of Central Nervous System Therapeutics and Drug Delivery. Invited guests provided feedback that will help CCTEC better manage the technologies.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Cornell Reception at BIO 2008

Date: June 18, 2008

At the annual BIO conference in San Diego, Cornellians enjoyed a night of fun over beer, wine, and hors d'oeuvres. Reception attendees networked and discussed technology opportunities at Cornell with fellow Cornellians and CCTEC staff. At the reception, CCTEC unveiled the Cornell BioPharma Network (CBPN), a social network that's part of CCTEC's Cornellboration (TM) social networking suite. The purpose of Cornellboration is to promote networking between Cornellians in different industries and the Ithaca and Weill Cornell Medical College campuses.

Click here to view photos from the event.