Breakthrough at Flyover U + green cars and green money.
"Man may be the captain of his fate, but he is also the victim of his blood sugar." – Wilfrid G. Oakley
FLYOVER U RESEARCH
IU researchers ID the molecule that affects wound healing
Dr. Kanhaiya Singh, photo courtesy of Indiana University School of Medicine
Patients with diabetes often face a significant problem in the healing of their wounds. This issue can lead to what is known as a diabetic foot ulcer and may lead to hospitalization and/or amputation.
Kanhaiya Singh, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in surgery at Indiana University, has identified a molecule that could be responsible for the improper healing: a target gene called Zeb1.
In healthy people, Zeb1 is responsible for the migration of cells that promote healing and the creation of new blood vessels. Zeb1 deficiency can cause the death of blood vessel forming endothelial cells. During hyperglycemia, Zeb1 loses its ability to bind to its partners.
Singh points toward the critical need to tune Zeb1 levels to intermediary levels optimal for wound repair. In an interview on the IU School of Medicine website, he said, “From a therapeutic point of view, if we can reduce the levels of Zeb1 in diabetic patients, then we may be able to achieve healthy blood vessel growth in wounds. First, we need to do more preclinical research before we can go clinical.”
Ultimately, he hopes that they can develop drugs that adjust Zeb1 levels in diabetic wounds.
Flyover University research briefs
Detecting food borne toxins
In an effort to help stop the spread of food borne illnesses (which kill 3,000 people a year), researchers at Purdue have developed a lanthanide-based assay coupled with a laser that can be used to detect toxins and pathogenic E. coli in food samples, water, and a variety of industrial materials.
Next-generation manufacturing tech
The Kentucky National Science Foundation’s (NSF) EPSCoR, or Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, has awarded a $24 million grant to the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky (with six other Kentucky institutions) to advance next-generation manufacturing technology.
NIH awards $189M to IU School of Medicine for grant funding
IU School of Medicine recently announced that it had received $189 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The record-breaking funding will be used across all areas of the school.
A potential vaccine for preventing respiratory infections
By figuring out how a common virus hides from the immune system, Ohio State University scientists have identified a potential vaccine to prevent sometimes-deadly respiratory infections in humans.
Project seeks to destroy PFAS in liquid waste streams
University of Missouri-Kansas City assistant professor Megan Hart received $354,000 in funding from the Department of Defense’s Strategic and Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) for a two-year project focused on destroying PFAS (a compound in wrinkle-resistant clothing, nonstick cookware, firefighting foam, etc.) in concentrated liquid waste streams through a series of lab-based tests.
Madison startup buys all-EV Green Cab ride service
Last October, Madison’s Green Cab taxi service began swapping out its hybrid vehicles for Tesla Model 3 electric cars, leased from local startup Zerology. Founded last year by tech entrepreneur Shree Kalluri, Zerology says its mission is to help people find “convenient, eco-friendly ways to get from here to there.”
Now Zerology’s parent company, Mobile Transformation, has purchased Green Cab. Zerology and Green Cab, while remaining separate companies, are working together to operate a fleet of 36 electric vehicles, with plans to grow that number to 50. The partnership is a good one, matching the trend toward zero-emission vehicles with the increasing popularity of ride-sharing apps. And because both companies have an interest in sustainable transportation, Kalluri says, “There is already that environmental sensibility baked in.”
The switch to an all-electric fleet presented some infrastructure challenges—like installing four fast charging stations and 20 lower-speed stations (a full charge will last about 300 miles). Zerology is also working with Green Cab to develop a new app for riders, which is expected to launch in March.
SoLiS Mobility is opening its first EV charging station in St. Louis
Construction has begun on a “holistic charging station” in downtown St. Louis. The 5,411-square-foot station, which is expected to open by May, is being built by local startup SoLiS Mobility in conjunction with the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership (SLEDP). SoLiS has developed a charging and sharing infrastructure that incorporates “architecture, sustainability, and technology” to serve electric vehicle (EV) drivers.
SoLiS, which has operations in Europe and Asia as well as in St. Louis, says it’s using engineered bamboo building systems and integrated battery and storage. The agnostic charging station will feature 24 EV stalls, a lounge and business center space, coffee and healthy food options, and EV ride sharing/hailing.
SLEDP CEO and president Rodney Crim praised the project, citing its strategic location and convenience, sustainability, and accessibility. “This $3.2M economic development project evokes the innovative spirit that is synonymous with St. Louis and moves us further towards a path of sustainability.”
Social media studio raises $3.5 million
Soona, a Minneapolis startup that provides professionally produced photo and video content, has raised $3.5 million in seed capital. The company has studios in the Twin Cities and Denver and will open studios in Austin and New York City this year.
Soona is also getting some attention for its “candor clause.” It’s a clause its founders, who are both women, wrote into their contracts with investors, requiring them to disclose any prior allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination. Because 85% of partners at venture capital firms are men, there is often a power imbalance when women start businesses and seek capital. The open source clause is available online for other startups to use.
Startup Funding Briefs
Cleveland’s EmployStream raises $7M in Series B Funding
Chicago tech hub acquires Illinois Technology Association
Startup incubator 1871 has acquired the “principal assets and programs” of the Illinois Technology Association (ITA), which offers support to growth-stage companies.
North Carolina company raises $2.25M in equity
Charlotte, NC-based Source Technologies has raised $2.25 million in equity. The company offers thermal barcode and magnetic ink character recognition printing solutions. 13 investors contributed to the round.
KCRise Fund announces investment in two Kansas companies
Kansas City VC fund KCRise has invested in a pair of regional companies, SpiderOak (data security) and Innara Health (neonatal medical products). KCRise co-invests with institutional VC firms to support early-stage ventures.
UK can hook you up with local grains
The University of Kentucky is partnering with Kentucky farmers to bring locally sourced grain to Kentucky restaurateurs and bakers. Students in UK’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, under the tutelage of wheat breeder David Van Sanford, are on a quest to establish regional small-grain value chains that put high-quality, local wheat on the tables of Kentuckians.
Students mill the wheat into flour and bake scones, biscuits, cakes, muffins, artisan breads, and pizza dough. The small grain value chain makes it possible for restaurants and bakeries to source flour directly to the farm that raised it. Students and faculty plan to produce other nontraditional varieties to support local restaurants.
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