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CTL eNewsletter: March 2011

Biodegradable Biomaterial Platform Technology for Human Body Repair

Dr. Chih-Chang “C.C.” Chu, the Rebecca Q. Morgan ’60 Professor of Fiber Science at Cornell University, has developed many technologies with new biomaterials. His research includes the design and synthesis of biodegradable polymeric biomaterials for wound healing/closure, tissue regeneration, vascular grafts, heart valves, artificial skins, bone regeneration, infection control, drug control/release, DNA carriers for gene therapy, identification and forensic purposes.

Specifically, Dr. Chu and his laboratory developed an entirely new family of enzymatically biodegradable amino acid-based polymers called poly(ester amide)s (PEA) or “pseudo-proteins” exhibiting both protein and non-protein properties. PEAs elicit much lower inflammatory responses than many FDA-approved commercial biomaterials. When coupled with PEAs, commercial biomaterials also reduce their inflammation elicitation. Such ability to attenuate inflammation offers major advantages in promoting natural wound healing, reducing implant-derived complications, or improving success rates of surgical implants. As such, PEAs are ideal coatings for medical devices for either drug-elution or for improving other performance characteristics in vivo. PEAs also support proliferation of diverse cell types and therefore are useful for either tissue engineering or production of biologics.

Another unique advantage of PEAs is the great variety of combinations available that can be tailor designed for specific applications. For example, PEAs have been integrated with polysaccharides to make hybrid biomaterials that can harness the merits of both pseudo-proteins and polysaccharides.

Variety of physical forms engineered from the newly developed pseudo-protein biomaterials in Dr. Chu’s lab.

Chu’s group has engineered PEAs into an array of physical forms such as fibers, 3-D microporous gels, hydrogels, micro- and nanospheres, or electrospun fibrous membranes. PEAs can be positively, negatively, or neutrally charged and they can be hydrophilic or hydrophobic. These charge characteristics enable capture of DNA, biologics, and cells for sustained delivery. For example, cationic PEAs can deliver DNA to transfect a variety of cells with much lower cytotoxicity and better performance than commercial transfection agents.

Biodegradable polysaccharide-based biomaterials are another class of materials developed by Dr. Chu’s group for applications, such as bone engineering and as synthetic extracellular matrix. These new biomaterials are based on either chitosan or dextran and have also been fabricated into hydrogel form for drug delivery with proven cell biocompatibility.

Dr. Chu is working with industry and medical professionals to bring his biomaterials inventions to clinical reality. Currently, Dr. Chu is collaborating with researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, and other institutions. Dr. Chu also works with industry partners such as Cornell startup, iFyber, and NovaSterilis, both in Ithaca, NY, where the recent project with iFyber is to develop a cost-effective PEA-based nitric oxide wound-healing technology.

For more information on these technologies, please contact Martin Teschl at or 607-254-4454.

A New Type of Immunotherapy for Allergy

It is estimated that allergic rhinitis affects up to 40% of people in the United States. Antigen-specific immunotherapy, via weekly, subcutaneous, bolus injections, is the standard treatment for various allergies. The drawbacks of this therapy are well-known - the weekly office visits are inconvenient for patients and allergists, the repeated injections are unpleasant for patients, and there is the remote risk of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening type of allergic reaction).

Dr. William Reisacher, of Weill Cornell Medical College, has developed a new method of delivering allergy immunotherapy, called subcutaneous microsphere immunotherapy, or "SMITH". Standard allergy proteins are incorporated into microsphere carriers made of biocompatible, biodegradable polymers, and are released in a sustained, predictable manner for 3 months when injected under the skin. SMITH offers potential advantages over traditional subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), including reduced frequency of injections, more effective desensitization, and reduced risk of anaphylaxis, thus representing a new modality for treating airborne and perhaps food allergies as well.

For more information on this technology, please contact Carol Dempster at or 212-746-1297.

Microspheres that were created under a scanning electron microscope.

Business Plan Competition

The Cornell Venture Challenge (CVC) is the much anticipated annual Business Plan Competition at Cornell organized by the Big Red Venture Fund, a student-run venture capital fund at Cornell’s Samuel Curtis Johnson School of Graduate Management. Successful applicants will get the chance to pitch new and exciting business ideas to a panel of professional investors and entrepreneurs. The winners of the competition will earn a $10,000 cash prize (non-dilutive funding) to push their ideas forward. CCTEC provides additional matching prizes to all winners whose business plans are based on one or more technologies that have been officially disclosed to CCTEC prior to the deadline of 3/11/2011. For official rules and guidelines, click here.

Funding Opportunities

CAT funding awards require collaborative applied research and technology transfer with industry that will lead to quantifiable economic impact in New York State. New faculty are encouraged to apply with projects that might be of future interest to industry and to collaborate with potential industrial partners when preparing the proposal. Proposals from diverse disciplines in the life sciences including biological and physical sciences, engineering, and human and veterinary medicine are welcome. For more information, click here.

Cornellboration®: CCTEC's Online Networking Sites

CCTEC maintains a suite of online networking sites where Cornellians can learn, network, converse, find solutions, post information, and blog. Cornellboration® consists of Cornell BioPharma Network for Cornellians who are interested in the biomedical industries, Cornell NanoMat Network for Cornellians interested in the nanotechnology and material sciences industry, and Cornell Angel Network for Cornellians who are qualified investors to browse Cornell startups profiles. All Cornellians (students, faculty, staff and alumni) are welcome to join the Cornellboration® networking sites. For more information and to join, click here.

30th Anniversary of Bayh-Dole Act

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Bayh-Dole Act, CCTEC shared examples of the tangible impact of this seminal legislation by posting selected technologies and startups and illustrative numbers of new products on the market by current licensees, new businesses created, and active licenses to the Bayh-Dole Impact Map that is jointly sponsored by the Association of American Universities, Association of University Technology Managers, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, and the American Council on Education. To view our post, click here. More universities will soon be posting their “impact” on the map as well.


Upcoming Events

Academic Technology Transfer - A Stanford Perspective

Date: March 10, 2011
Time: 10:45AM-12:00PM
Location: G10 Biotech Bldg

Katharine Ku, Director of the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) at Stanford University, will be speaking about Stanford and the entrepreneurial culture of Silicon Valley. The Office of Technology Licensing’s (OTL) role in this area will be discussed. The OTL has over 40 years of experience in translating research into products.

Inventions Roundtable™ - Bioenergy

Date: March 11, 2011
Time: 9:00AM-1:30PM
Location: CCTEC Office Suite, 395 Pine Tree Rd, Suite 310

This event will feature four technology presentations focused on bioenergy. Invited guests will provide feedback in the areas of marketability and applications. The presentations will include: Altering Plant Cell Wall Composition and Structure for Cellulosic Ethanol Production, Methods to Improve Alcohol Tolerance in Microorganisms for More Efficient Ethanol Production, Pretreatment Process for Diverse Biomass Sources, and Methods of Enhancing Lignin Depolymerization.

IP & Pizza™

Date: March 14, 2011
Time: 3:00PM-4:30PM
Location: Big Red Barn Graduate & Professional Student Center

Join CCTEC for a discussion on intellectual property issues and technology transfer at Cornell. This event is sponsored by Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti, PC.

Bringing Your Startup to Life: A Mini Boot Camp Event

Date: March 16, 2011
Time: 4:00PM-6:00PM with networking from 6:00PM-6:30PM
Location: A-250, A Building, 2nd Floor, Weill Cornell Medical College, NYC

The Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization (CCTEC) and NYC Tech Connect are proud to host a Mini Boot Camp at the Weill Cornell Medical College campus as part of CCTEC’s Boot Camp series. This event will give you legal, investment and university perspectives about bringing your startup to life from knowledgeable panel members. Have your questions answered by experts and learn key lessons on starting a company. There will also be time for attendees to network with each other and panel members. There is no cost to attend this event and refreshments will be served.

Upstate New York Biocareer Connection

Date: April 8, 2011
Time: 12:45PM - 5:00PM
Location: Emerson Suites, Ithaca College

Come and learn about what Upstate NY has to offer in the field of bioscience. Exhibitors from across the region will be at the event to explore and discuss opportunities. A panel of experts will provide strategies and advice for landing a job in a large or small biotech company, academic institution, or government/non-profit organization. Also, the speakers will provide resume and interviewing tips.

CCTEC New Business & Emerging Technology Showcase™

Date: April 14, 2011
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 the Ithaca campus, Weill Cornell Medical College, and New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. This showcase is part of the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration event.

IP & Pizza™

Date: April 18, 2011
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
Location: G01 Biotech Building

Join CCTEC and the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences for a discussion on patent claims and why they are important to the success of technology commercialization. This event is sponsored by LeClairRyan.

IP & Pizza™

Date: April 20, 2011
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
Location: Weill Greenberg Center Rooms A & B, NYC

Enjoy a slice of pizza and learn about intellectual property issues and technology transfer at Cornell.

Inventions Roundtable™ - Stem Cell Technologies & Therapies

Date: April 21, 2011
Time: 9:00AM - 1:30PM
Location: Weill Greenberg Center Rooms A & B, NYC

This event will feature presentations on stem cell technologies and therapies. Invited guests will provide feedback in the areas of marketability and applications.

Seminar & Social Hour™

Date: April 26, 2011
Time: 5:45PM - 7:15PM
Location: CCTEC Office Suite, 395 Pine Tree Rd, Suite 310

Join CCTEC and Johnson School MBAs from the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club to learn about an exciting new Cornell technology over drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Susan Daniel, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, will present a device to sort and classify cell membrane components at the event.

Recent Events

IP & Pizza™, School of Applied & Engineering Physics

Date: February 16, 2011

Attendees enjoyed pizza while learning about intellectual property issues related to the development of medical instrumentation. This event was sponsored by Brown & Michaels, PC.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Seminar & Social Hour™

Date: February 15, 2011

Guests enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and drinks and learned about exciting new medical devices coming out of Weill Cornell Medical College including: "Electroblink" - a magnetic blink control device for patients who have suffered strokes, brush biopsy device and method for allergy testing that is quick, easy, inexpensive, and non-invasive, and long-lasting treatment for allergies to replace current tolerance-inducing therapy that is painful and time consuming

Click here to view a photo from the event.