Celebrating Our Kindle Mentors

In the last two years, the Boston University Office of Technology Development has significantly grown its Kindle Mentoring Program to increase the engagement of successful BU alums and the greater Boston entrepreneurial community with the New Ventures process.  Boston University and BMC together represent more than $400 million in research awards and support a research community of more than 3,900 faculty and 32,000 students, and the Kindle program provides a unique opportunity for seasoned entrepreneurs and business executives to have direct and meaningful interaction with the BU community to facilitate early stage business formation.

Our Kindle Mentors are seasoned entrepreneurs and business executives from a variety of industries and business occupations, who volunteer to work individually or in groups with their chosen mentee projects.  Through this engagement, they have opportunity to network with other mentors via regular meetings, needing to commit only a few hours a month.  All mentors agree to adhere to a strict code of conduct, consistent with the university’s mission, to ensure that the mentees receive objective counsel.

The BU Kindle Program brought has brought on over 80 new mentors since 2011, with over 65 currently active.  At a recent meeting, OTD thanked several outstanding mentors for their service, including Joe Caruso (Owner, Bantam Group), Matt Crowley, (CEO, Sonify and former OTD Director), Ed Berger (Founder, Larchmont Strategic Advisors), Ian Mashiter (Entrepreneurial Educator, BUSM), Steven Saunders (Patent Attorney and Angel Investor), Terry Russell (Managing Director of Interface Ventures and serial entrepreneur), and Joe Straight (former CEO, Verax, ZymeQuest).  We look forward to seeing the results of their continued efforts.

If interested in being a mentor, please register here:

http://www.bu.edu/otd/industry-investors-entrepreneurs/kindle-mentoring-program/

Untitled

OTD Director Vinit Nijhawan (center) and Michael Pratt (second from left) thank:  Ed Berger, Matt Crowley, Steven Saunders, Terry Russell, Joe Straight, Ian Mashiter, and Joe Caruso (not pictured) at February’s Kindle Mentor meeting.

 

Healthcare Startup Constant Therapy Raises First Round Funding to Continue Developing, Launching Mobile Brain Rehabilitation Solutions

Adoption of its iPad Solutions Growing 50% Month-Over-Month; Now Employed by Thousands of Registered Clients and Therapists

BOSTON – Feb. 24, 2014 – Constant Therapy, a developer of a cloud-based iPad solution that enables people with cognitive, language, communication and learning disorders to access science-based brain therapies, today announced that it has raised first round funding.

This funding round is led by Boston University, TiE Angels Boston and serial entrepreneur Andy Palmer.
The undisclosed amount will go towards the development of Constant Therapy’s ground-breaking mobile brain rehabilitation iPad solution to meet the demands of a rapidly expanding user base as well as to officially launch and expand marketing efforts. The company’s solutions are designed for use by victims of traumatic brain injury, stroke, aphasia and learning disabled clients in addition to speech and language pathologists/occupational therapists.

According to Constant Therapy co-founder and CEO Veera Anantha, “Constant Therapy is the only application combining science-based tasks with advanced analytics enabling patients to take advantage of the latest and most advanced research on brain rehabilitation. Adoption of our application has been growing 50% month-over-month, reaching new milestones with thousands of registered users. This funding will enable us to better and more quickly meet their critical needs.”

Vinit Nijhawan, managing director of Boston University Office of Technology Development, said, “We are proud to support a solution based on advanced brain rehabilitation research performed here. More importantly, we believe the Constant Therapy solution has the potential to transform the way therapy and developmental care is delivered to brain injury survivors and children with learning disorders.”

According to Andy Palmer, “There are few early-stage companies that have the potential to both create economic value and change people lives in such a significant way – Constant Therapy is one of them. The strong demand for the Constant Therapy application serves as testimony to the critical need it fills and the efficacy of its development.”

Constant Therapy enables patients to access tools for high-quality, science-based therapies from anywhere and at anytime. Clinicians can create highly customized rehabilitation programs for each patient, assign homework and monitor patient performance 24×7. This can translate into better patient outcomes and, importantly, continuing improvement.

Free Trial Download and Video Demo

Patients and clinicians can download a free trial of Constant Therapy’s iPad application here. They can view short video demos of the product here.

About Boston University

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 16 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission. In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

About Constant Therapy (www.constanttherapy.com)

Founded in 2012, Boston-based Constant Therapy provides iPad tools for continuous and personalized therapy to people with cognitive, language, communication and learning disorders. Born out of groundbreaking research at Boston University and in pilots with prominent and nationally recognized rehabilitation institutions, Constant Therapy provides the most comprehensive set of tools for care to people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), stroke or dementia, or children who need special education and care due to learning disabilities or other disorders. Therapy tasks are based on the latest research and are easy to use. With 50 science-based categories of tasks and over 12,000 items, patients can continue to get better at home or even after traditional care ends in the clinic.

CONTACT:
Elyse Familant
GCC, Inc.
978-725-3637
elysef@gccpr.com

Message from the Managing Director

Vinit Nijhawan October 2013

United States has been a leader in research and development funding since the end of WWII. Only Japan has outspent the U.S. as a percentage of GDP, with Japanese industry outspending all other countries. The U.S. government has outspent other countries in R&D spending (see figure below). Next to the Department of Defense, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has garnered the lion share of that spending. As a result U.S. BioPharma is a world leader in patents filed and new products brought to the market. Massachusetts has been a disproportionate recipient of NIH funding with the leading Biotech Cluster in the world.

The federal government sequestration is impacting basic research funding at all research universities including Boston University.  Industry sponsored research has the potential to support faculty research and to enhance product pipeline for companies. Global industry R&D expenditure have held steady at approximately 1.25% of sales (see figure below).

Of the top 20 innovator companies (by R&D spending) globally in 2011, 8 were pharmaceutical companies who typically spend on average 15% of sales. In spite of this R&D spending pharma lacks a robust pipeline of new drugs or related products. In fact the industry has been and continues to face patent cliffs as blockbuster drugs such as Lipitor and Enbrel lose their monopoly. Additionally the role of early stage biotech VCs has diminished with the cooled IPO market. Pharma is increasingly stepping up with in-house venture capital and increasing support of university research.

BU has recently been significantly supported by Pfizer CTI, Johnson and Johnson and Takeda who have sponsored research funding for novel therapeutics and diagnostics.  BU is a great university to partner with and we are working to streamline our industry sponsored research process to “minimize friction” and make it even easier for industry to collaborate with us.

Announcements

November 19th 2013, Grow Innovation at Biotech Event

As Boston’s largest biotech networking event, BiotechTuesday has been connecting professionals for over eleven years.  On November 19th, we are hosting our Grow Innovation in Biotech event to reward innovative ideas in biotech.  If you have an innovative biotech product or idea, please submit a pitch to our site for review by the community (http://goo.gl/GMIHkW).   Participants will have an opportunity to win awards and support from the BiotechTuesday community.  Be sure to register to attend this exciting event at http://goo.gl/14NhZo and select the Apply to Join link if you are not already a member of BiotechTuesday.

Sample6 Secures 11 Million

Sample6, a company focused on applying biotechnology to advance food safety, announced today that it has secured a $11 million Series B financing round led by Canaan Partners.

For more information please visit:
http://sample6.com/2013/10/09/sample6-secures-11-million-in-series-b-financing-to-support-commercialization-of-companys-food-safety-products/

New Life Sciences and Engineering Center Promotes Synthetic Biology Research

Boston University has recently proposed building a seven-story, 150,000-square-foot life sciences and engineering building to house a new center focused on synthetic biology research, as an addition to its Charles River campus. Named ‘The Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering’, the building will replace an existing parking lot on 610 Commonwealth Avenue that is currently owned by BU. The university filed plans for the new facility with the City of Boston just last month, stating it would “provide additional interdisciplinary research space for faculty and students in neuroscience and systems/synthetic biology” in order to “to keep pace with the burgeoning bioengineering industry.”

The center’s main seven floors will provide lab and collaboration areas, as well as academic and administrative space.  In addition, a mechanical penthouse will be located on the top floor housing machinery needed to support the center’s research programs. In the last few years, as computing power has multiplied and the cost of decoding and synthesizing DNA has nose-dived, the promise of synthetic biological to solve important problems has never been greater. For example, research on oil spill cleanup is high on the agenda and will employ customized microbes. Another project on weapons detection will use synthetic biology to create programmable robots, and has received $7.5 million funding from the Office of Naval Research.

The program intends to create a dynamic trio of humans, robots, and genetically engineered bacteria, working together to detect whatever the bacteria are programmed to detect. The customized bacteria will talk to one another, and they will report to miniature “chaperone robots,” a mere 10 to 100 centimeters long, that will each control thousands of microbes. Finally, the chaperone robots will wirelessly report back to humans.

James Collins, a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and pioneer in synthetic biology and Calin Belta, an ENG associate professor of mechanical engineering, systems engineering, and bioinformatics, are the two BU faculty working on the project. The Collins group will determine the DNA modifications required to engineer bacteria while Belta will help design and assemble both the microbiotic and chaperone robots.

Douglas Densmore, the Richard and Minda Reidy Family Career Development Assistant Professor in the College of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will find the best way to assemble and verify the DNA used to enable the microbes to sense specific environmental signals. “The idea,” says Densmore, “is to engineer living organisms—in this case bacteria—that respond to external stimuli in the environment. They will generate a fluorescent or chemical signal that can be measured by the chaperone robots, which can produce signals as well that the bacteria can detect. So you have a two-way communication system. And finally, we will create chaperone robots that can also communicate with human users.”

“There is a group of biologists out there who say, ‘Biology is way too complicated to engineer,’” Densmore says. “Biology is complicated, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to push the boundaries. We are saying, ‘Let’s not wait. We are going to learn things and we are going to predict things and we are going to build things.’”

Boston University’s Effort to Fight Cancer by Teaming Doctors with Engineers

Imagine if a clinician had the tools to reveal the early stages of lung cancer through just a nose swab, detect liver and skin cancer with a simple blood test, or prescreen for colon cancer without the need for a colonoscopy.

These are some of the goals of the research projects that are supported by the Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care (CFTCC) at Boston University. The CFTCC was founded in July 2012 with help from a five-year, $9 million grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at the National Institutes of Health. The Center’s mission is to move some of the burden of cancer treatment, screening and diagnosis out of specialized centers and into local clinics or home care use around the world. The driving notion is to bring tests conveniently to the patient that provide immediate results to improve patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs. The focus on point-of-care treatment stems largely from patients having to travel a distance or take time off of work to see a specialist, which can result in delays in care and follow-up treatment. Additionally, in low resource settings, there may not be enough well-trained surgeons or other specialists to treat all patients in need.

To address these issues, the CFTCC evaluates new technologies at various stages of development for their suitability across a range of primary care and non-traditional healthcare settings. Future technologies seek to allow providers who have less specialized training to treat more patients at lower cost. The Center focuses on the identification, prototyping, and early clinical assessment of innovative point-of-care technologies for the treatment, screening, diagnosis and monitoring of cancers with the overall goal of transitioning functional prototypes out of the Center toward later stage clinical testing and commercialization.

A major aspect of this effort is to promote research collaborations between engineers, clinicians and industry partners. The CFTCC fosters collaborations between these stakeholders and offers a variety of additional support to the teams. The Center is comprised of different Cores which are available to qualified Center Projects. The Prototype Development and Testing Core consists of the Alpha Core and Beta Core prototyping labs on the Boston University campus. The Alpha Core provides scientific expertise and manufacturing resources that enable researchers to build rapid prototypes of their devices. The Beta Core, in collaboration with the Boston University-Fraunhofer Alliance, provides scaled-up production and advises on the suitability of mass production. The Training Core offers workshops and meet-ups that bring a broad range of stakeholders together in settings where cross-fertilization of ideas can be facilitated. Several seminars that are open to the public are held throughout the year to train people in topics including regulatory issues, good manufacturing practices, and working with institutional review boards. The Clinical Needs Assessment and Impact Analysis Core identifies unmet medical needs perceived by clinicians, patients and the medical device industry.

Catherine Klapperich, the CFTCC director and an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, encourages anyone to seek advice and/or apply for support from the Center. The only requirement is that the project is related to cancer care. More information for the center can be found at www.bu.edu/ftcc/.

 

 

MRC Technology and Boston University Collaborate to Develop anti-IL-16 Antibody for Treatment of Inflammatory Conditions

Boston University is collaborating with MRC Technology, a technology transfer organization, to develop an anti-IL-16 antibody for use in treatment of inflammatory diseases and Ischemic Reperfusion Injury (IRI). A £577,000 Biomedical Catalyst Award grant to MRC Technology in 2012 will partly fund the project.

The new antibody therapy may have promise for a wide range of inflammatory diseases, including Crohn’s Disease, Lupus, asthma, as well as in IRI. IRI is a disease resulting from tissue damage and ensuing inflammatory response due to sudden loss of blood flow, which may occur during surgery or as a result of a blood clot. In the past, this has caused poor clinical outcomes and extended hospital stays for patients, and represents a large healthcare burden.

The antibody was originally developed by Boston University and has been humanized by MRC Technology. The MRC Technology team is now in the process of performing further engineering, as well as detailed x-ray diffraction structural analysis to better understand IL-16 functionality . In the meantime, Boston University is conducting both in vivo and in vitro experiments to confirm its validity.

Professor Justin Bryans, Director of Drug Discovery at MRC Technology said: “The general anti-inflammatory field is a large market, and IL-16 has the potential to cover a broad range of indications. We are very pleased that Boston University chose to work with MRC Technology.”

“MRC Technology has been very supportive and a real pleasure to work with. The group’s scientists were able to humanize the antibody very efficiently, and we are in the process of characterizing its efficacy in vitro and in vivo.” Commented Bill Cruikshank, Professor of Medicine at Boston University. “We look forward to collaborating further on this project.”

Message from the Managing Director

Dear Reader,

The recent award by a jury of over $1 billion to Apple Computer from Samsung points to the value of Intellectual Property (IP) in today’s economy. In fact IP Policy is now central to Innovation Policy in many industries. It also points to the drawbacks of one-size-fits-all patent system that provides a 20-year monopoly equally to a software design patent or a pharmaceutical therapeutic. Nonetheless this is the system prevalent across the world and it has worked brilliantly in encouraging inventions from industry and research universities.

A few statistics to frame the opportunity[1]:

  • Demand for patents has risen from 800,000 applications worldwide in the early 1980s to 1.8 million in 2009.
  • Trademark applications worldwide increased from 1 million per year in the mid-1980s to 3.3 million in 2009.
  • Industrial design applications worldwide more than doubled from about 290,000 in 2000 to 640,000 in 2009.
  • International royalty and licensing fee (RLF) receipts increased from $2.8 billion in 1970 to $27 billion in 1990 and to approximately $180 billion in 2009 – outpacing growth in global GDP.
  • Massachusetts is #2 behind Delaware for the patents per capita and is #2 behind California for patents filed by universities.
  • University share of global patents has increased from 4% in 1990 to 6% in 2010.
  • Israel, the Republic of Korea, the US, and the Nordic countries have the highest levels of investment in knowledge per GDP in 2008.
  • Many patent offices have seen growing backlogs of pending applications as patent filings become more complex. In 2010, the number of unprocessed applications worldwide stood at 5.17 million.

BU OTD follows good Business Principles in patenting and licensing (http://www.bu.edu/otd/thought-leadership/business-principles/), including as a signatory of the Nine Points to Consider in Licensing University Technology. Our primary objective is to see BU Intellectual Property created by research faculty be reduced to practice for the benefit of mankind. Our secondary objective is to generate royalties for research faculty and the university. We do enforce our patents if non-licensees are infringing them. Several of our patents have been hugely instrumental in benefiting mankind:

  • Ted Moustakas: Blue LED patents licensed to Cree, Nichia, Osram, Phillips, etc.
  • Jack Murphy: ONTAK oncology therapeutic licensed to Eisai
  • Charles Cantor: Pre-Natal DNA test licensed to Sequenom
  • Russell Giordano: Dental Implant dynamic ceramic material licensed to Vita Zahnfabrik
  • David Salant: Anti-PLA2R Antibody (to cure membranous nephropathy kidney disease) licensed to EuroImmune

[1] World Intellectual Property Organization

Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll

On July 15th, 2014, the Office of Technology Development at Boston University will host its fifth annual technology networking event entitled, Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll (TDRR), from 4-8pm in the Metcalf Ballroom of the George Sherman Union.

TDRR is a networking event designed to connect scientists and engineers with entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators. The event will showcase emerging technologies from Boston University’s research programs in the fields of life sciences, physical sciences, medical technology, new ventures, and student-based ventures. The event will also include participation from key translational research centers including the Clinical and Translational Science InstitutePhotonics Center, Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation, and Wallace H. Coulter Foundation.

The event prides itself on finding a great band every year to provide lively music and create a relaxed atmosphere for networking. This year, TDRR welcomes the musical talents of Poor Old Shine, a band who specializes in alternative Americana music.

The Boston University Provost, Jean Morrison, will also be attending to announce the recipient of this year’s Innovator of the Year Award. This award seeks to highlight translational research at Boston University by recognizing an entrepreneurial faculty member who translates their world-class research into inventions and innovations that benefit humankind.

The sponsors of this year’s Tech, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll event are Sanofi, Shore Chan, Pfizer, and Wolf Greenfield. They will all be joining us at the event to celebrate innovation in a high-energy fashion.

To register click here.

For more information about the conference and registration for the conference, please visit www.bu.edu/otd/tdrr.

In vitro Production of New Blood

A recent study led by Boston University School of Medicine has demonstrated a novel approach to create an unlimited number of human red blood cells and platelets in vitro. In collaboration with Boston University School of Public Health and Boston Medical Center, the researchers differentiated induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into these cell types, typically obtained through blood donations. The finding potentially reduces the need for blood donations and could help researchers examine novel therapeutic targets to treat a variety of diseases.

The study was led by George J. Murphy, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CReM) at Boston University and BMC and performed in collaboration with David Sherr, PhD, a professor in environmental health at BUSM and BUSPH.

In this study, the iPS cells were obtained from the CReM iPS Cell Bank. The cells were exposed to growth factors in order to coax them to differentiate into red blood cells and platelets using a patented technology. These stem cells were examined in depth to study how blood cells form in order to further the understanding of how this process is regulated in the body.

In their new approach, the team added compounds that modulate the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) pathway. Previous research has shown this pathway to be involved in the promotion of cancer cell development via its interactions with environmental toxins. In this study, however, the team noted an exponential increase in the production of functional red blood cells and platelets in a short period of time, suggesting that AhR plays an important role in normal blood cell development.

“This finding has enabled us to overcome a major hurdle in terms of being able to produce enough of these cells to have a potential therapeutic impact both in the lab and, down the line, in patients,” said Murphy. “Additionally, our work suggests that AhR has a very important biological function in how blood cells form in the body.”

iPS-derived cells have great potential to lead to a variety of novel treatments for diseases given that they can be used to construct disease models in a lab. The iPS-derived red blood cells could be used by researchers examining malaria and sickle cell anemia while the iPS-derived platelets could be used to explore cardiovascular disease and treatments for blood clotting disorders.

To view an abstract of the study, visit:

http://bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/content/early/2013/05/29/blood-2012-11-466722.abstract.