The Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership (CCTRP)
between Case Western Reserve University and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation
has announced more than $1.1 million in 2019 funding and support for seven
The seven Case Western Reserve projects were selected for full
program funding, which ranges from $50,000 to $200,000 each. Several additional
pilot projects have or will be awarded funding by year’s end. All projects are
partnerships between a clinician and a biomedical engineer, and are focused on
solving areas of unmet clinical need.
The 13-year-old program invests more than $1 million annually in
direct funding and support services to help research teams from Case Western
Reserve advance products from the laboratory to the marketplace, where they can
improve patient care.
The funding goes toward preparing projects for commercialization,
such as demonstrating technical feasibility, and gauging their market
feasibility and industry interest. The program has led to 24 startup companies
and several other licenses that have delivered 30 technologies to patients.
“The Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership continues to
be a cornerstone of our department, filling an essential gap to transition
university biomedical technologies from research to products, where they can
significantly improve the health of our society,” said Robert Kirsch, the Allen
H. and Constance T. Ford Professor and chair of the university’s
Department of Biomedical Engineering.
The Case-Coulter oversight committee reviewed 29 proposals during
this cycle. Projects must have the potential to leave the university within 12
to 30 months.
“As a group, the quality of the evaluated technologies continues
to improve each year, demonstrating the robustness of the biomedical technology
pipeline” said CCTRP Director Stephen Fening. “We had many more proposals that
were deserving of inclusion into the program than we were able to accommodate,
making the selection process more challenging than ever.”
The seven projects selected and their inventors are:
BG34-200: a potent immunotherapeutic for melanoma, osteosarcoma, pancreatic cancer and other solid tumor cancers
Partnership: Mei Zhang, research assistant professor, biomedical engineering; and Alex Huang, professor of pediatrics and pathology
Technology: A significant fraction of patients with solid tumor
cancers in metastatic and advanced settings do not respond to immunotherapies
due to a lack of T-cell-inflamed tumor microenvironment. This botanical-derived
non-toxic BG34-200 molecule can be intravenously injected to modulate
macrophages and create a tumor microenvironment that is vital for the
generation of antitumor T-cell responses.
Novel Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging agent for tumor detection and cancer treatment
Partnership: Susann Brady-Kalnay, professor of biology and microbiology; and Jim Basilion, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering
Technology: Specific tumor detection is critically important in
cancer imaging to avoid unnecessary biopsies to exclude false-positive findings
and to allow treatment—or redirection of treatment—at earlier stages of the
disease. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging agents that specifically
recognize tumor cells are necessary for improved imaging and subsequent
evaluation of therapeutic efficacy independent of their metabolic rates. PTPµ
is a novel imageable biomarker that can be used to specifically and more
comprehensively detect and monitor aggressive invasive and metastatic tumors.
Computerized response assessment for immunotherapy score (CuRIS): ovarian and lung cancer
Partnership: Anant Madabhushi, the F. Alex Nason Professor II of Biomedical Engineering; and Michael Yang, assistant professor of pathology
Technology: Recently, several drugs targeting the programmed death-1 (PD-1) receptor and its ligand, PD-L1 (programmed cell death ligand-1) were approved for use in patients with advanced stage non-small cell lung and ovarian cancer. However, only about 20% of patients benefit from these drugs. The researchers will seek to develop, optimize, validate and use an advanced Artificial Intelligence based Immunotherapy Treatment Response (CuRiS) tool to develop predictive biomarkers from digital pathology to identify those patients who are not likely to respond to immunotherapy and hence could be candidates for alternative treatment regimens. The CuRiS tool could reduce ineffective treatments, toxicity and costs associated with these agents.
Robust nanobubble contrast agents for real-time ultrasound guided prostate cancer biopsy
Partnership: Agata Exner, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering; and Jim Basilion, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering
Technology: This technology will enable a more efficient and
effective prostate cancer diagnosis while building on the existing biopsy
workflow and clinical ultrasound imaging technology. The nanobubble imaging
agent will specifically target prostate cancer cells and serve as a beacon
guiding the urologist, in real time, to possible tumors. Nanobubble-guided
biopsies could identify tumors more accurately and could lead to fewer
procedures, thus reducing risk, lowering costs and shortening the time to
diagnosis and treatment.
NeutroStat: neutrophil-targeted nanomedicine for treating venous thromboembolism (VTE)
Partnership: Evi Stavrou, an Oscar D. Ratnoff Designated Professor in Medicine and Hematology.; and Anirban Sen Gupta, professor of biomedical engineering
Technology: NeutroStat is a nanomedicne technology that targets
neutrophil-platelet complexes at the site of growing venous thrombi for
site-specific delivery of therapeutic molecules to reduce neutrophil extracellular
trap formation. Currently, venous thrombi are treated by downstream
anticoagulant therapies that are associated with systemic bleeding risks in
many patients. NeutroStat promises to reduce the upstream mechanisms that drive
coagulation and thrombus formation, in a highly targeted fashion, that will
significantly improve therapeutic safety and efficacy in the treatment of
Photosorb: engineered sunscreen with single, multifunctional active ingredient
Partnership: Vijay Krishna, assistant staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Edward Maytin, staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Dermatology
Technology: Every year, more than one million new cases of skin cancer, including melanoma, are diagnosed in the United States. The primary cause is exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from sunlight. Sunscreens can block UV, but increasing concerns about the health and environmental risks of chemical sunscreens now on the market underscores an urgent need for safer, more effective alternatives. A team from biomedical engineering and dermatology at Cleveland Clinic is developing a novel sunscreen (PhotoSorb) that appears to be safer and more stable than current sunscreens, and also has the potential to actually prevent skin cancers.
Three-dimensional ultrasound imaging for ophthalmology
Partnership: Faruk Orge, professor of pediatric ophthalmology and visual sciences; and David Wilson, the Robert J. Herbold Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Technology: A high resolution, 3-D ultrasound system and software for imaging the eye. Ultrasound is especially important for visualizing tissues behind the opaque iris, which is opaque to optical imaging. As compared to standard 2-D ultrasound imaging, 3-D enables rapid, intuitive understanding that will lead to improved diagnosis, treatment planning, and treatment assessment in ophthalmology. 3-D ultrasound enables never-before-possible visualization of ciliary processes, which are important for many eye conditions such as glaucoma.