UB filed 13 provisional patent applications for innovations developed by med school faculty, including a cancer-fighting antibody discovered by Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, PhD.

40 Percent of UB Provisional Patent Filings Originate in Med School

Published February 14, 2013

Innovations developed at least in part by faculty at UB’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences accounted for nearly 40 percent of the provisional patent applications filed by the university in 2012.

Of the 33 provisional patent applications UB filed in 2012, 13 stemmed from research conducted at least in part by Medical School faculty.

The discoveries described below represent five of 13 involving medical school researchers and 33 for which UB filed provisional patents.

Combating Vascular Disease: Custom Blood Vessels

Vascular disease affects millions of Americans, and treatment bottlenecks include a lack of suitable replacement vessels for grafting.

UB medical and engineering researchers are working to commercialize one potential solution: a way to produce customized blood vessel segments programmed to regenerate nearly normal blood vessels when grated into patients.

The inventors are Daniel D. Swartz, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, Stelios T. Andreadis, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering, Maxwell Koobatian, a student in biophysical sciences, and Maoshih Liang, a student in chemical and biological engineering.

Antibacterial Combo: Superbug Destroyer

UB medical researchers have discovered that average antibiotics achieve super strength when combined with HAMLET, a protein-lipid complex found in breast milk. This new combination remedy aims to combat the growing prevalence of drug-resistant superbugs.

The synergistic effect makes bacteria more sensitive to the drugs. Some antibiotic-resistant bacteria even regained sensitivity to the antibiotics they were resisting, says Anders Hakansson, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology. This new approach could potentially extend the life of current antibacterial treatments, he adds.

In addition to Hakansson, the inventors, both from microbiology and immunology, are Hazeline Hakansson, research assistant professor, and Laura Marks, student.

Fighting Implant Infection: Biofilm Eradicator

UB researchers have devised a novel electrochemical technique than can quickly and reliably eradicate biofilm infections on metallic medical implants.

Biofilms—layers of micro-organisms that congregate on a surface—frequently cause hospital-associated infections. People with both orthopedic and dental implants could benefit.

The inventors are Mark Ehrensberger, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical engineering; Anthony A. Campagnari, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology, and medicine; Esther Takeuchi, professor of chemical and biological engineering; and Nicole Luke-Marshall, PhD, research assistant professor of microbiology and immunology.

Promising Antibody: Tumor Suppressor

Many cancer cells have a carbohydrate structure on their surface known as the Thomsen-Friedenreich—or the CD176—antigen, which appears to play a pivotal role in the spread of tumors.

Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, PhD, professor of biotechnical and clinical laboratory sciences, has discovered a mouse antibody that binds to this antigen, halting its activity and significantly reducing metastasis.

She has started the company For-Robin to develop the antibody for use in humans.

Controlling Cancer Growth: MicroRNA

A team of researchers at UB and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center has discovered that restoring levels of a microRNA underexpressed in certain types of cancer significantly suppresses tumor growth in animal models.

Administering this microRNA or its precursors could have applications in preventing and treating cancer.

The inventors include Aiming Yu, PhD, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences and an adjunct faculty member in pharmacology and toxicology; Yuzhuo Pan, postdoctoral fellow, pharmaceutical sciences; and Jingxin Qiu, clinical assistant professor of pathology and anatomical sciences.

Path to Market

Each of these innovations needs further development to reach the marketplace but has shown substantial promise in solving a real-world problem. The next step will be to file a regular patent application.

The inventors work with UB’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach to commercialize their breakthroughs.