Drugs, Devices, and Diagnostics

The Brandeis Office of Technology and Licensing offers a wide range of drugs, diagnostics, medical device materials, and research materials for licensing. 

We welcome you to contact us to learn more about our available technologies, and for introductions to faculty members.

Multifunctional Hydrogels of Basic Building Blocks with Advanced Nanobiomedicinal Applications

Millions of people who lose body parts each year as a result of accidents or diseases rely on alternative biomedical materials to help regenerate new living and functional replacement tissues. However, current polymers used to support cell growth in these engineered tissues are limited by separation and purification roadblocks, cytotoxicity and demonstrate poor responsiveness to normal physiological cues. Our invention overcomes these limitations through the creation of a novel “supramolecular hydrogelator” that more functionally mimics endogenous extracellular matrices and offers higher biocompatibility than current polymers. Our multifunctional hydrogel platform conjugates small peptides containing nucleobases and/or glycosides into regenerative medicine scaffolds and is optimally designed for use in DNA/RNA/drug delivery to cells, manufacturing cell-based therapeutic devices and ex vivo cell expansions.  

Taurine Boosts Intracellular Delivery of Functional Molecules

Internalization of functional molecules is required for efficacy with many diagnostic and therapeutic agents used in current standards of care across disease areas. Unfortunately, the delivery of exogenous functional agents into cells is prevented by the non-permeable plasma membrane. While cell penetrating proteins (CPPs) have traditionally been used to improve cellular uptake, their use is limited due to susceptibility to metabolic degradation, poor stability and specificity of cell type matching. Our invention overcomes the limitations of CPPs and relies on the covalent conjugation of taurine to a D-peptidic hydrogel precursor for drug delivery to benefit from a taurine-promoted uptake of the therapeutic agents. We have found our novel method increases intracellular delivery of agents by 10X while eliminating immune responses and toxicity caused by CPPs.

New MALDI MS Imaging Revolutionizes Disease Diagnosis

Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization (MALDI) is a technique often used for mass spectrometric (MS) analysis of large biomolecules, such as proteins. Direct MS imaging of a tissue sample provides spatial and chemical information on hundreds of molecules at a time, and thus, has potential for correlating the molecular composition of a patient’s biopsy with disease pathology and ultimately leading to a diagnosis. However, the low protein profiling resolution (1 mm) obtained when analyzing small tissue samples prepared using current  processing methods is inadequate for use of MALDI MS imaging as a reliable diagnostic tool in patient care.  Furthermore, current processing methods take hours to prepare a sample for imaging and additionally require access to expensive instrumentation. Our breakthrough invention is a novel sample processing method that enables the use of MALDI MS imaging for diagnostic purposes, including: 1) significant reduction in processing times; 2) 100X reduction in costs; and 3) 50X increase in spatial resolution with high-resolution profiling up to 1 μm.

A Novel Therapy for Epilepsy - Rebuilding Inhibition in the Epileptic Brain

A key aspect of neuronal function is achieving the proper balance of excitation and inhibition (E/I) within each neural circuit. Disruptions in the normal E/I balance can lead to devastating neurological disorders and new approaches to treat these types of diseases are needed.   Epilepsy is known to be caused by E/I imbalances and unfortunately nearly ⅓ of patients do not respond to currently available therapies. Our invention is a novel approach to treating certain neurological disorders by restoring the normal E/I balance in neural networks through exogenous delivery of the protein Sema4D which permanently increasing the number of inhibitory synapses. Effectiveness of this approach to control seizures has been shown in two mouse model systems.

A New Strategy for Selective and Specific mTOR Inhibition

Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is dysregulated in many diseases including cancers, immunosuppression and neurodegeneration. The currently available mTOR-targeted drugs (rapamycin derivatives and Torin) act by inhibiting all its functional activities through both mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and complex 2 (mTORC2) signaling.  Blocking mTORC1 signaling pathways can increase lifespan and displays efficacy in the treatment of diseases, however, inhibiting the metabolic pathways regulated by mTORC2 leads to new-onset type 2 diabetes.  Due to its complexity in signaling and involvement in multiple serious diseases, there is a significant unmet need for identifying new mTOR-targeted therapies. The current invention addresses these needs by selectively inhibiting mTORC1 signaling pathways only while leaving mTORC2 signaling unaffected.  Our novel small molecule approach utilizes a different mechanism of action than other current mTOR-targeted drugs and has the potential to augment currently approved cancer and neurodegeneration therapies without the additional metabolic side effects.

Suppression PCR for Improved Rare Copy Diagnostics

Faster, more accurate and less invasive methods for diagnosing cancer are of high interest to patients, healthcare providers, and payers.  The current gold standard for guiding appropriate treatment — tumor biopsy — carries with it the significant costs and risks associated with invasive surgery while only sampling a portion of the abnormal cells. Nunchaku PCR of the current invention is the most user-friendly and widely-deployable suppression PCR method in existence today. With this technology, the upstream primer itself mediates selective amplification of rare sequence variants from among an abundance of a known sequence, with the same primer sites.

IMPDH inhibitors selectively prevent guanine synthesis in microbes

Parasitic Cryptosporidium infections are major causes of dehydration, diarrhea and malnutrition worldwide often spread by ingesting food and water contaminated from the feces of infected individuals. There is unmet medical need for effective and potent new drugs to cure Cryptosproridium infections.  Current treatment options are very limited with only one drug, nitazoxanide, approved for use by the US FDA to target this parasite.  This oral drug selectively targets the metabolic processes of the parasite. The invention available for licensing is a family of phthalazione, urea and benzoxazle-based small molecule compounds that treat these infections by inhibiting Cryptosproridium IMPDH (Cp IMPDH) activity.  We have found that these compounds selectively inhibit Cp IMPDH activity in parasites to effectively shut down their purine salvage pathway and thus preventing the synthesis of new guanine nucleotides required for cell division.

Novel first-based antibiotics for the parasite Cryptosporidium parvum

The purine salvage pathway of C. parvum relies on inosine-5′-monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH) and is very different from the host counterpart. Organisms need to synthesize nucleotides in order for their cells to divide and replicate. By exploiting the evolutionary divergence of parasite and host enzymes, a high throughput screen yielded four parasite-selective IMPDH inhibitors that display anticryptosporidial activity in vitro with greater potency than paromomycin, the current gold standard for anticryptosporidial activities. These compounds are expected to inhibit other IMP dehydrogemnases. Examples of other disease causing organisms containing such enzymes include Campylobacter jejuni which causes food poisoning, Neisseria gonorrhoeae (causes gonorrhea), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (causes tuberculosis)

Integrating Enzymatic Self-Assembly & Mitochondria Targeting for Selectively Killing Cancer Cells without Acquired Drug Resistance

A bioinspired system which selectively generates the assemblies of redox modulators (e.g., triphenyl phosphimium (TPP)) in the pericellular space of cancer cells for uptake, allows selectively targeting the mitochondria of cancer cells. The attachment of TPP to a pair of enantiomeric, phosphorylated tetrapeptidic produces the precursors that form oligomers.  The cancer cell uptake these assemblies of TPP via endocytosis, mainly via caveolar/raft dependent pathway. This bioinspired system is achieved by utilizing enzyme-instructed self-assembly (EISA) to kill cancer cells that minimizes acquired drug resistance. The conceptual system has been tested ex vivo on several cancer cell lines. The invention is the first example of the integration of subcellular targeting and the spatial control of the assemblies of non-specific cytotoxic agents by EISA as a promising molecular process for selectively killing cancer cells without inducing acquired drug resistance.