"Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought." – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
- Flyover research goes after cancer.
- Big (big!) "Flyover Funding" happening
- The smart watch that never needs charging
- Name that Flyover City!
February 12, 2020
UW-Madison profs develop nanoparticles to fight cancer
UW-Madison Campus - Shutterstock
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed nanoparticles that may serve as an effective, far cheaper alternative to the antibodies that are currently used in immunotherapies. In the lab, the nanoparticles have successfully activated immune responses to cancer cells.
The study was led by Seungpyo Hong, a professor in the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy, along with postdoc associate Woo-jin Jeong. In January, they published their findings online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, along with collaborators from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“Immunotherapy basically boosts the patient’s own immune system to fight against cancer cells better,” Hong said. “The antibodies that are used right now are large, they’re expensive, they’re hard to engineer, and they don’t always show the highest level of efficacy either. So we wanted to explore other ways to activate the immune system.”
The next step is to see how well the nanoparticles work in the body. Hong has applied for a patent on them and has begun testing on animal models.
MasSpec Pen technology could revolutionize cancer surgery
A recent $1.25 million seed-round investment, led by i2E Management Co., Inc., is helping Tulsa’s MS Pen Technologies, Inc. advance its MasSpec Pen System. MS Pen Technologies subsidiary Genio Technologies, Inc. has acquired exclusive rights to the system.
The MasSpec Pen system, developed in the lab of analytical chemist Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, PhD, is a handheld device that enables doctors to distinguish between normal and cancerous tissue during surgery—in as little as 10 seconds. This is in contrast to frozen section analysis, the current method of identifying cancerous tissue, which can take 30 minutes or longer to interpret and can be inaccurate.
"If you talk to cancer patients after surgery, one of the first things many will say is 'I hope the surgeon got all the cancer out,' " Dr. Eberlin said. "It's just heartbreaking when that's not the case. But our technology could vastly improve the odds that surgeons really do remove every last trace of cancer during surgery."
St. Jude to build $13.4 million center for research
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, long a household name thanks to the fundraising support of entertainers Danny and Marlo Thomas, is building a $13.4 million center on its Memphis campus. The center will include laboratories to help find cures for catastrophic diseases in children. It’s part of a $1 billion capital expansion project that officials say will create 1,000 new jobs.
The project includes two new support labs, one called the Center for Modeling Human Pediatric Diseases and the other the High Content Screening Lab. Several existing support labs will also move to the new center. More good news for St. Jude: Sixty years after Danny Thomas began raising money for the children’s hospital, a new generation of stars is taking up the cause.
Des Moines sets new records in 2019 with $2 billion in new construction
Business in greater Des Moines is booming. Eclipsing figures from recent banner years, the metro area announced record figures with more than $2 billion in building permits issued in 2019. Strengthened by widespread housing development throughout the sprawling suburbs, overall construction increased by 16% over 2018 numbers. Developers pointed to increasing demand for lower-maintenance townhome units throughout the metro area, including Ankeny, the 10th fastest growing city in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Not to be outdone, commercial development, including major expansions to Facebook's data center in Altoona and Casey's General Store headquarters in Ankeny, totaled more than $1.1 billion for the calendar year. Microsoft committed an additional $160 million to its West Des Moines data center project, as well.
Pesky caucus woes notwithstanding, things are looking rosy in Iowa.
KC startup founders invest $4.75M in their property management platform
New words are popping up as fast as the business technology landscape can invent them. Like FinTech, HealthTech, BioTech, AgriTech, and PuppyTech. (Okay, we made up that last one, but it’s surely just around the corner.) And now, introducing RentTech.
It makes perfect sense—rental property owners of multifamily operations can benefit greatly from technology that enables them to handle things like leases, rent collection, and tenants’ maintenance requests. That’s why the three co-founders of Kansas City startup Simplifyy decided to invest $4.75 million in their company.
Robert Henrichs, who handles Simplifyy’s marketing, says the need for the platform is apparent.
“Multifamily property owners are looking for ways to leverage technology to optimize their properties, but there has been no single solution up until Simplifyy.”
Simplifyy, which launched in October, is currently being used by 500 units in KC and is on track to support 3,000 units by the end of next year. On the owner side, Simplifyy handles operating expenses like administration and payroll for a monthly fee. Renters can access numerous features for free, including smart home technology provided by Simplifyy’s strategic partner Homebase AI.
Madison’s Exact Sciences reports impressive Q4 screening revenue
According to a preliminary financial report, cancer diagnostics company Exact Sciences saw a 61% year-over-year jump in screening revenue during the fourth quarter of 2019. Screening revenue accounts for a substantial portion of the Madison-based company’s total revenue. In Q4 2019, total revenue was roughly $295 million, with screening revenue accounting for about $230 million.
The company also reported that 477,000 colon cancer screens were performed during the fourth quarter using its Cologuard test—63% more than in Q4 2018.
Part of the increased revenue came thanks to the company's merger with Genomic Health in early November. In a statement, Exact Sciences chairman and CEO Kevin Conroy offered an optimistic picture of the combined companies’ potential.
“Following our combination with Genomic Health, we have the leading scientific minds, an experienced commercial team with deep relationships, and the global footprint necessary to support the growth of current and future cancer diagnostics.”
Nashville AI firm's new funding brings the total to $120 million
Artificial intelligence company Digital Reasoning is making it rain in Nashville. The company has raised $20 million in its latest round of funding, bringing its five-year total to more than $120 million. Investors include BNP Paribas, HCA Healthcare, Goldman Sachs, Nasdaq, and Midcap Financial LLP. The Nashville company also has offices in New York, London, and Singapore.
What’s so hot about Digital Reasoning? Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. As we enter an era in which computers understand language, everybody wants in on the action. The company is growing its bookings in hospitals, investment banks, and other organizations that want to take advantage of the technology. The company focuses on security and intelligence, in addition to healthcare and fintech.
Using heat energy from the human body to power wearable technologies
Roll over, Gilligan: There’s a new human-powered apparatus in town. Engineers at North Carolina State University have created a flexible smart-watch-like device that never needs charging. Like the stationary bike Gilligan pedaled to power the castaways’ radio, the NC State device is powered by the human body. And to power it, the wearer doesn’t even have to move—just be alive. That’s because the device harvests heat energy from the human body to work.
Previously, researchers have developed rigid thermoelectric harvesters that convert heat to electrical energy, but those aren’t great for wearable technologies. A flexible harvester, however, is perfect for a watch or other health-monitoring device. The flexible device makes better contact with the skin and is more comfortable to wear. The engineers developed the device using magic.
No, j/k, the process actually involves liquid metal made of an alloy of gallium and indium called EGaln. Or, as one of the researchers awesomely put it: “The key here is using a high thermal conductivity silicone elastomer doped with graphene flakes and EGaln.” With professors like that, maybe we’ll finally get off this island after all.
For a little demo on how one can "harvest" electricity from body heat, check out this cute video from the National Science Foundation and NC State about how it's done:
It's ... Name that Flyover city!
Useless information that is strangely fascinating.
- Shaw University, the South's first African American college, began classes in 1865 and was chartered in 1875. In what city is it located?
- A celebration called the Mifflin Street Block party has been held every year since the 60s. What city throws this party?
- This city is home to what is claimed to be the largest bicycle museum.
Click here for today's answers.
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