Bio/Life Sciences


The Bio-Engineering Institute (BEI), Biology & Biotechnology, and target="_self">Biomedical Engineering departments are the primary sources of biological and life sciences intellectual property including disclosures, patent applications, patents, and know-how/trade secrets. Other departments, notably target="_self">Chemistry & Biochemistry and target="_self">Chemical Engineering, are also contributors to this area. Strengths in regard to inventive activity with commercial potential include bio-processing technique development, genetic engineering, and biosensors.

Pending Patents

Camesano/Pinzon, U.S. patent pending, Disruption of Escherichia coli adhesion activity by cranberry juice;

Camesano/Gallardo-Moreno/Liu, U.S. patent pending, Investigation of molecular scale mechanisms of cranberry on Escherichia - Escherichia coli bacteria are the predominant uropathogens associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs).  Proteins on the bacterial surface play a crucial role in promoting attachment of bacteria to cells in the urinary tract, the first step in bacterial infection.  Compounds found in cranberries commonly ingested in the form of cranberry juice can inhibit the adhesion of bacteria to these cells. The mechanism for cranberry interfering with bacterial adhesion has been characterized using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) techniques. It may help in the prevention of UTIs and possibly other infections.

Zhou/Pascault, U.S. patent pending, Electrokinetical control of DNA microarrays - Gene chips, capable of detecting specific DNA sequences in a sample, have become widely used devices. However, existing gene chip arrays are passive; the motion of DNA in the sample is only governed by diffusion, which make the DNA transport slow and limits the hybridization rate. Electrokinetics involving the application of electrical fields to microarrays induces more efficient and controllable particle and fluid motion. This technique applies to different kinds of devices such as DNA arrays, immuno-assays, and trapping of cells.   

Prusty/Hunter, U.S. patent pending, Fungal quorum sensing - Fungal infections have large implications in agriculture and medicine.  There are few interventions available in the form of anti-fungal agents due to their toxicity.  However, secondary metabolites can regulate fungal development.  These small molecules play an important role in quorum sensing (i.e. the control of gene expression in response to cell density).  Indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) is a secondary metabolite that has been shown to regulate fungal growth in certain organisms.  Cellular response to IAA as a quorum-sensing molecule in genetically well-described yeasts has been characterized and forms the basis for broadly applicable method development for controlling fungal infections. 

Zhou/Gupta, U.S. patent pending, Investigation of neuronal affinity to microfabricated carbon for the study of neuronal morphology in Alzheimer’s Disease - 18 million people worldwide suffer from dementia caused by the malfunctioning of neurons.    Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in people aged 65 and older.  Formation of abnormal aggregates due to abnormal processing of amyloid precursor and tangles resulting from the deformation of protein are known to cause many nerve cells to stop functioning and lose connections with other neurons. The invention involves a microfabricated neuronal device designed for AD research.  The benefits of microfabrication include reduction in usage of reagents and the ability to micropattern the substrate to align the neurites.  Cells grown in a patterned fashion restrict the number of neurites emerging from cells and significantly reduce the complexity of neuronal architecture.  Resulting subtle neuronal morphology eases the study of activities in individual neurons during AD process.  The fabrication technique involves growing cultured neurons in a specific pattern and isolating them on an artificial biocompatible matrix.

Arguello/Eren, U.S. patent pending, Novel regulatory metal binding domain is present in Arabidopsis Zn-ATPase HMA2 - Plant Zn-ATPases lack the typical N-terminus metal binding domain observed in most P1B-ATPases. However, they have unusually long C-terminuses that are rich in CysCys dipeptides and HisXxxHis repeats, which provide regulatory metal binding functionality.

Pins/Liang/Dougherty, U.S. patent pending, Precision nanostructure fabrication methods for the investigation of cell-substrate interactions - Investigating cell-substrate interactions plays an important role in current tissue and cell engineering efforts.  Cells interact with substrates through surface receptors.  In particular, the size, periodicity, and chemistry of surface patterns affect the adhesion, proliferation, mineralization, and differentiation of certain bone cells.  The invention involves non-lithographic fabrication methods using anodized aluminum oxide (AAO) templates to synthesize nanostructured substrates and highly ordered nano-patterned surfaces comprised of proteins and biopolymers.  Potential biomedical applications are tissue scaffolds, biosensors, implant surface coatings, and drug delivery devices.

DiIorio, U.S. patent pending, System for coupling protein production and recovery – This invention combines fermentation and recovery of product in one step resulting in substantial process efficiences over existing sequential process designs.

Pins/Balestrini/Walsh/Browning, U.S. patent pending, Characterizing Keratinocyte attachment in response to basal lamina analog composition - The dermal-epidermal junction of skin contains extracellular matrix proteins that are involved in initiating and controlling keratinocyte signaling events such as attachment, proliferation, and terminal differentiation.  Through the use of an innovative high-throughput screening technique a set of design parameters has been developed that will enhance keratinocyte binding efficiency on the surface of collagen membranes and ultimately improve the rate and performance of skin tissue development on scaffolds.

Pins/Cornwell, U.S. patent pending, Collagen and fibrin microthreads in a discrete thread model of in vitro ACL scaffold regeneration - Novel fibrin microthread scaffolds have been developed that are morphologically and mechanically similar to collagen threads but composed of the basic structural protein found in the provisional matrix during wound healing. Because fibrin acts as a temporary substrate for fibroblasts migration from the wound margin, these fibrin microthreads represent a temporary matrix capable of promoting increased wound healing response. This innovation is focused on the spatially and temporally complex process of ligament tissue regeneration through the use of aligned matrix protein microthreads.

Thalladi/Cox/Shaffer/Ferris, U.S. patent pending, Selective growth of pharmaceutical polymorphs – Polymorphs, different solid state forms of the same active ingredients, often exhibit different physicochemical properties.  These properties determine the selection of pharmaceutical form and formulation.  A new technique involving the use of self-assembled monolayers as synthetic templates provided the exclusive growth of one polymorph over the other in therapeutically important substances (bronchodilator and NSAID). 

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