Scientists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and the University of Michigan have discovered a new immune cell. The discovery may lead to a cure for a broad range of neurological diseases, including ALS, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injuries, and stroke. The same team also identified a human immune cell line that helps repair nervous system damage.
The newly discovered cell, a type of white blood cell called granulocyte, is similar to nerve cells that help the body fight off infection. The scientists were able to use the cell to grow new nerve fibers and repair spinal cord injuries in mice. “Our findings could ultimately lead to the development of novel immunotherapies that reverse central nervous damage and restore lost neurological function across a spectrum of diseases,” said Dr. Andrew Sas, a scientist in the department of neurology at OSU. The findings were published in the journal Nature Immunology.
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How Kentucky became a national leader in civic data
Kentucky is a national leader when it comes to leveraging state data for improving policy and programs. Yes, you read that right - Kentucky.
Dr. Jessica Cunningham and Kris Stevens (from the Kentucky Center for Statistics) are encouraging folks across the country to think differently about how longitudinal data can be used to make lives better. This week, Jessica and Kris talk with Innovators podcast host Ben Reno-Weber from Louisville's Future of Work Initiative. Hear how their non-traditional backgrounds and love for data, math, and storytelling have come together to change the way business leaders and lawmakers think about how they can help people.
Four University of Michigan medical innovations win funding
Four biomedical research projects at the University of Michigan Medical School’s Office of Research have won $3.3 million in funding from the Frankel Innovation Initiative. The faculty-led projects include a device to filter blood and treat sepsis in children, a system to keep donor organs alive outside the body, a prosthetic hand that interprets signals from the brain, and a device to predict preterm birth.
The Frankel Innovation Initiative is a $20 million endowment from the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation to support research into life-saving therapies at U-M’s medical school. The gift will fund four to seven projects annually at the school, which is the top public university in the US. in research spending.
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Geolocation game helps users get familiar with a new town
St. Louis startup Dimensions has developed an app designed to help acclimate those who are new to a city. The interactive game offers both prepackaged and custom “geolocation experiences,” with things like scavenger hunts and gatherings that will help newcomers, as well as existing residents, engage with their community. By introducing users to locally owned businesses and neighborhood culture, Dimensions aims to help grow and support disinvested communities.
The startup says it plans to add four cities each year over the next four years, and each year should increase the market by 42 million users. Soon to be in public beta, the app is set to launch in 2021.
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Energy innovation grants offered to Wisconsin organizations
Wisconsin governor Tony Evers set a goal of producing carbon-free electricity by 2050, and a new round of funding aims to support that goal. The Public Service Commission (PSC) is handing out grants next spring for projects that “reduce energy consumption, increase the use of clean energy or alternative transportation technologies, or increase energy resilience.”
The energy innovation grants, totaling $7 million, are being made available to manufacturers, hospitals, nonprofits, schools, public utilities, and municipal and tribal governments.
Dr. Kedar Mate, President and Chief Executive of IHI
IHI (Institute for Healthcare Improvement) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Boston that works to improve health and healthcare organizations in over 30 countries. Dr. Kedar Mate, President and Chief Executive of IHI, talks about the institute’s mission and how Cincy’s Hive Networks is playing a pivotal role.
You’re very involved with LHNs (Learning Health Networks). Can you explain the concept?
Dr. Mate: IHI works from the axiom All Teach, All Learn. Everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn. That thesis was incorporated into LHNs for improving specific health outcomes for patients. LHNs are a marriage of the research community, provider community, and the patient community. All are teaching and learning from each other to improve health outcomes. That 3-part network has been so incredibly critical to the pace and the scale of the work.
What does Hive Networks contribute to the mission?
Dr. Mate: The LHN was essentially an academic model created by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with help from IHI. We needed a way to push it out to a broader audience. We wanted to make it so that anyone who wanted to start a network like this could. That’s what Hive Networks has pioneered.
Hive has created the data architecture and the community architecture that enables any clinical community to come together more rapidly and to take better care of patients. Hive took us into the realm of “anyone who wants to start a network can have the ability to do so.”
Can you give us an example of how LHNs are succeeding?
Dr. Mate: LHNs in general have made amazing advancements. One example is the LHN for in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). That network now includes 30,000 patients. That means that almost all kids with IBD are in this network now. The aggregate remission rate for kids with IBD went from an average of 50% to 80% in the last decade. Substantial outcomes for these kids: It means they can go to school, they can go to the prom. Things that weren’t possible before remission.
We also have a network for children born with a rare heart syndrome in which the left side of their heart is not working properly. It requires two surgeries to fix before the child is one years old. What was happening is that some children were dying between the surgeries. What was discovered through the LHN is that there were medications that could be administered between the surgeries that could increase the survival rate by 40%.
To learn more about the Learning Health Network model and Hive Networks, visit www.hivenetworks.com. To learn more about the Institute of Healthcare Improvement visit www.ihi.org.
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FUELING THE FUTURE
What is fueling Flyover Country innovation? In this weekly feature, we share a variety of announcements covering funding, acquisitions, exits, grants, and everything in between. Got something to celebrate? Click here to share your story.
AI-powered supply chain company Llamasoft, based in Ann Arbor, has been acquired by business spend management company Coupa. The purchase price was roughly $1.5 billion.
Kentucky’s Venminder, located in Elizabethtown, has landed a $33 million Series C funding round led by a new investor, Silversmith Capital Partners, with participation from existing investors Bain Capital Ventures and MissionOG. Venminder has developed a SaaS platform to provide third-party risk management solutions.
Purdue University biological engineer Mohit Verma has been developing a way to test produce in the field to detect contamination—such as Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. Current testing methods require sending samples to a lab, resulting in reporting delays. The Center for Produce Safety has awarded Verma a grant of almost $400,000 to help further his work.
Healthcare company Centene Corp., based in St. Louis, MO, has struck a deal to acquire Silicon Valley tech company Apixio, whose AI platform mines and analyzes unstructured patient data. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, subject to regulatory approvals.
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NAME THAT FLYOVER CITY!
It's time for our favorite trivia game!
Here are this week's questions:
Chef Gerard Craft has been nominated five times for the James Beard Foundation Award, winning it once. In what city did he open his restaurant Niche?
The C3 rangefinder camera enjoyed a 27-year production run and became one of the top-selling cameras in history. What company introduced it and in what city?
What city is home to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame?