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Emory recognizes faculty entrepreneurs for technology and innovation

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Holly Korschun

Emory University’s Office of Technology Transfer will celebrate its faculty entrepreneurs and their innovative discoveries at the 10th Annual Celebration of Technology and Innovation.


Start-up of 2015: Microbial Medical, Inc.

Mark Goodman, PhD (radiology), W. Robert Taylor, MD, PhD (cardiology), and Kiyoko Takemiya, MD, PhD (cardiology)

Microbial Medical develops imaging agents for the non-invasive detection of bacteria in humans. The diagnosis of infections related to implanted medical devices is a critical problem, with an estimated financial impact exceeding five billion dollars annually. Although numerous imaging strategies have been developed for diagnosing infections, none can accurately detect early stage infections or distinguish between infection and inflammation. The inventors developed a technology that uses maltodextrins – sugars that target the maltodextrin transporter, which is uniquely present in all bacteria but not in areas of inflammation. The company’s product pipeline includes novel imaging agents and drugs for diagnosing (using common medical scanners) and treating bacterial and fungal infections. In 2015, Emory executed a high net worth license with Microbial Medical for the technology.

Deal of 2015: Bristol-Myers Squibb – CXCR4 Antagonists

Dennis Liotta, PhD (chemistry), and Lawrence Wilson, PhD and Michael Natchus (Emory Institute for Drug Discovery)

CXCR4 protein expression is low or absent in many healthy tissues, but it was shown to be expressed in more than 20 types of cancer, including prostate, ovarian and breast cancer, and melanoma. Emory researchers have developed small molecules that act as antagonists to CXCR4 and may be orally administered. CXCR4 antagonists are known to block adhesion, replication and outgrowth of HIV and can mobilize white blood cells. In 2015 Emory executed a high net worth license for the technology and research collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Innovation of 2015: Motion-based Detection by DNA Machines

Khalid Salaita, PhD (chemistry)

Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) genotyping is the screening and analysis of genetic variations of SNPs, which are common in all species including humans. SNP genotyping and analysis technology can analyze thousands of SNPs and has the potential for whole-genome genotyping. DNA-based machines have potential in several applications and industries, but DNA machines called “walkers” are challenging to work with due to their low fidelity and slow rates. Emory inventors have developed a DNA-based machine that converts chemical energy into controlled motion. Because this new class of DNA-based machines “roll” rather than “walk,” they are able to surpass the maximum speed of existing DNA motors by three orders of magnitude. This technology can serve as a new and powerful tool in SNP genotyping, as well as other applications in diagnostics, drug delivery and biomaterials.

Significant Event of 2015: EGL Genetic Diagnostics, LLC and Eurofins Scientific

Madhuri Hegde, PhD (human genetics)

Emory Genetics Laboratory (EGL) was founded at Emory University in 1970 as a component of the Department of Human Genetics. EGL provides high-complexity molecular, biochemical and cytogenetic testing for rare and common genetic diseases and disorders, serving more than 400 institutional clients, including hospitals and other commercial laboratories in the U.S. and globally. As the first academic laboratory to bring Next Generation Sequencing technologies to the commercial clinic market, EGL remains a leader in cutting-edge genetic tests, with “first-to-market” tests comprising more than 80 percent of its portfolio. EGL conducts more than 35,000 tests annually for genetic diseases, carrier screening, and prenatal testing and is leading the industry in gene panels including cancer testing and exome sequencing in the realm of personalized medicine. In 2015, Eurofins Scientific, the global leader in bio-analytical testing, and one of the world leaders in genomic services, acquired a 75 percent stake in EGL for approximately $40M. With the acquisition of EGL, Eurofins is expected to further strengthen its pharmaceutical and genomic service offerings and reinforce its development as a leader in specialty clinical testing services for hospitals, clinicians and pharmaceutical companies.

Emory University’s Office of Technology Transfer

In 2015 Emory University’s Office of Technology Transfer celebrated 30 years of success in guiding scientific discoveries from the laboratory into the marketplace. Emory currently manages more than 1,000 technologies invented by its scientists and physicians. This has led to the formation of 72 new companies and the introduction of more than 39 new products into the marketplace, some of which, like the discovery of several HIV drugs, have had major health and societal impact.

Emory startups have received $1 billion in private investment capital, $314 million in public investment capital, and $13.5 billion from mergers and acquisitions. Emory investigators have filed 2,671 patent applications and been issued 609 U.S. patents and patents in 91 countries. Emory has executed more than 700 license agreements with industry, resulting in $854 million in licensing revenue, creating additional funding for new and ongoing research.

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