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CTL eNewsletter: October 2009

Cotton Candy Forms Capillary Model

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY - Cotton candy and networks of veins and capillaries inside living tissue, at first glance, may not have much in common. Dr. Leon Bellan, a former doctoral student at Cornell University's Nanobiotechnology Center and Dr. Jason Spector of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College, thought otherwise. Using cotton candy, Bellan and Spector developed a promising new method to create artificial vascular and capillary systems for laboratory-grown tissue, skin, muscle or fat. The three-dimensional vascular network was created by pouring a liquid polymer over a ball of cotton candy attached to two sugar rods. After the polymer solidified, the sugar is dissolved, leaving a complex network of tiny channels. To test how well blood could flow through the artificial vascular system, the researchers injected rat’s blood containing fluorescent dye. By following its progress through the network using a video fluorescence microscope, they confirmed that the microchannels and the other larger channels were observed to fill with blood.

Bellan and Specter’s technique could someday solve a central problem of developing artificial organs, currently limited by the difficulty of reconstructing the human body’s complex and essential circulatory system quickly and cheaply. Without fine-grained nets of capillaries that can be connected to the body's circulatory system, complex tissue can't dispose of waste effectively, nor receive the nutrients it needs from blood cells. While future medical applications are compelling, putting this technique into use in reconstructive surgery and wound healing treatments will likely require significantly more research and extensive testing. In the shorter term, CCTEC is exploring other possible applications for this technique in constructing networks for heating, cooling, and even self-healing polymers. Bellan, a former doctoral student of Dr. Harold Craighead, is one of twelve finalists in the Collegiate Inventors Competition.

Cotton candy fibers provide a highly vascularized template that mimics that found in healthy human tissue.

For more information about this technology, contact Martin Teschl at CCTEC at

New Biopsy Test May Predict Which Patients are at Risk for Breast Cancer Metastasis

Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY - According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the second-most common deadly form of cancer in women after lung cancer. After initial diagnosis and treatment, an estimated 10 - 20 percent of breast cancer patients relapse and die when cancer settles into other bodily organs, a process called distant-organ metastasis. Drs. Joan Jones of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and colleagues from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and MIT, developed a tissue test that could someday predict a woman’s risk for breast cancer metastasis. This test could be the first step towards customizing the appropriate level of treatment in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

The tissue test is based on previous research by co-author Dr. John Condeelis of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Working with live lab animals, Condeelis noticed that a particular congregation of different, but specific cell types in cancerous tissue was associated with breast cancer metastasis. He named this configuration of cells Tumor Microenvironment of Metastasis (TMEM). To look for the same configuration in human breast tissue, Jones developed an immunohistochemical test for pathologists that can indicate the presence of TMEMs in human breast cancer biopsy specimens. In blind studies of biopsy samples from breast cancer patients who had developed metastatic disease and those that had not, Jones and colleague Brian Robinson found that the higher the density of TMEM, the greater the risk of distant-organ metastases. Notably, the association of TMEM density with the development of distant-organ metastasis was independent of lymph node status and tumor grade -- two indicators that are currently used in predicting metastatic risk.

Cartoon depicting findings in rat and mouse mammary tumors. Black box: anatomic compartment where intravasation occurs, as observed in the rodent mammary tumors, and also corresponds to the areas identified and scored as TMEM in histologic sections in the study.

The test could become available to the public once the method is validated in a study of a large population of breast cancer patients, which will take about two years, according to the researchers. Also on the agenda is identifying a threshold TMEM density for metastastatic risk, and streamlining the process for measuring TMEM. This study, published in Clinical Cancer Research last April, represents a collaboration between the primary investigators, Dr. Joan Jones of Weill, Dr. John S. Condeelis and Dr. Thomas Rohan of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Dr. Frank B. Gertler of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The commercialization of this jointly-owned technology is being managed by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

For more information about this technology, contact Brian Kelly at CCTEC at . The related article that was published in Clinical Cancer Research is available here.

Cornell Technology Venture Forum™ and Technology Innovation Gala

Ithaca, New York -- CCTEC hosted its Third Annual Cornell Technology Venture Forum™ (CTVF) on October 22, 2009. Attendees gathered to hear eleven oral presentations. Five Cornell inventors shared their emerging technologies including a microfluidic device for drug evaluation, commensal microbes engineered to be signal monitors and responders inside the body, cancer metatasis prevention, nanoparticles for minimally invasive prostate cancer therapy, and scaling video games for better playing experiences. Six Cornell startups, including Orthogonal, ZetrOZ, Prendismo, Glycobia, Adenios, and Vybion pitched their businesses to investors, industry representatives, and Cornell community leaders. The East Hill Office Building Atrium was filled with posters of information technology, veterinary medicine, drug development, cancer treatment, agriculture, medical devices, and MEMS. Attendees made useful business contacts and met potential collaborators during the poster viewing sessions and a networking lunch.

Immediately following CTVF, the inaugural Technology Innovation Gala reception was held to recognize Cornell faculty innovators whose research results have been licensed to industry partners for commercial development since January 2007. More than 150 guests including faculty innovators and their guests, industry representatives, university Trustees, community leaders, investors, and university senior administrators gathered to celebrate the faculty innovators accomplishments. Cornell Provost, W. Kent Fuchs, and Senior Vice Provost for Research, Robert Buhrman, also toasted and presented to Professor Watt Webb the 2009 Ezra Technology Innovator Award for his invention, “Multiphoton Microscopy Systems”, in recognition of the invention’s impact on the advancement of biological science research.

The Gala reception will be a biennial event to celebrate the success and dedication of Cornell innovators who are committed to make the results of their research useful to benefit the public.

Attendees watch Dr. Xin-Yun Huang, Physiology, of the Weill Cornell Medical College present his research, "Blocking the Metastasis of Cancer."
Attendees mingle at the Technology Innovation Gala after the Cornell Technology Venture Forum™.
Attendees view posters and mingle at the Cornell Technology Venture Forum™.

Upcoming Events

Seminar & Social Hour™

Date: November 3, 2009
Time: 5:30PM - 7:00PM
Location: CCTEC Office Suite, 395 Pine Tree Rd Suite 310

Join CCTEC and MBA candidates from the Johnson School to learn about an exciting new Cornell technology over drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Jonathan Butcher, Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering, will be presenting his "Device for Mechanical Biopsy of Soft Tissue".

Entrepreneurship Seminar Series - Idea Validation & Opportunity Assessment

Date: November 20, 2009
Time: 2:30PM - 4:30PM
Location: East Hill Office Building Training Room & Atrium

The topic is Idea Validation & Opportunity Assessment - Get it Right, Don't Chase Ghosts, Stay the Market! The speaker will be Ted Julian, a well-known high-tech entrepreneur.

IP & Pizza™, Faculty of Computing and Information Science

Date: December 8, 2009
Time: 12:00PM - 1:30PM
Location: 655 Rhodes Hall

Join CCTEC and the Faculty of Computing and Information Science for a discussion on technology transfer at Cornell over pizza.

Recent Events

BayHelix Reception

Date: October 30, 2009
Time: 6:00PM - 9:00PM

CCTEC held a networking reception at the Cornell Club in Manhattan with members of BayHelix, an organization of Chinese-American executives in the life sciences (

Cornell BioPharma Network/Cornell Entrepreneur Network Joint Event

Date: October 28, 2009

Attendees from the Cornell BioPharma Network and the Cornell Entrepreneur Network enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and networking at the first face-to-face event of the Cornell BioPharma Network. Dr. Howard Fillit, Executive Director of the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), presented on ADDF. ADDF is a pioneering “venture philanthropy” that directly invests in early-stage companies pursuing drugs and diagnostics for Alzheimer’s. In our post-crash era, in which the venture capital model seems broken, organizations like ADDF are emerging as a crucial source of funding for high risk biotech ventures. For more information on ADDF, visit

To join the Cornell BioPharma Network, you must have a Cornell NetID.  Join by clicking here.

To view photos from this event, click here.

2009 Technology Innovation Gala

Date: October 22, 2009

The inaugural Technology Innovation Gala reception was held to recognize Cornell faculty innovators whose research results have been licensed to industry partners for commercial development since January 2007.

For more information about the Gala, click here.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Cornell Technology Venture Forum™

Date: October 22, 2009

The Cornell Technology Venture Forum featured emerging technology and company presentations in the form of powerpoints and posters.

For more information about CTVF 09, click here

Click here to view photos from the event.