2021 Memphis Scipreneur Challenge IPs

SequencErr – A Computational Method to Enable More Precise Measurement of Sequencer Errors

(Dr. Xiaotu Ma, Assistant Member in the Department of Computational Biology)

Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital developed a novel computational algorithm to precisely measure the errors caused by sequencers. By using 3,777 publicly available datasets from 75 research institutes (in America, Europe, and Asia), they discovered highly reproducible patterns of sequencer errors, including: 1) the overall sequencer error rate is ~1×10-5; 2) at the flow-cell level, error rates are elevated in the bottom surface; 3) >90% of HiSeq and NovaSeq flow cells have a small fraction of outlier error-prone tiles with a dramatically elevated error rate; 4) Removal of outlier error-prone tiles improved sequencing accuracy.

They used these observations to produce a general-purpose algorithm, termed SequencErr, to computationally suppress sequencer errors and to also effectively monitor sequencer anomalies. SequencErr was engineered for efficiency so that a dataset with ultra-deep sequencing (1,000,000X depth) can be processed in 1.5N minutes on a single CPU core, where N is the number of target regions. Similarly, WES (100X) and WGS (~30X) datasets can be processed in under 1 CPU hour in order to monitor instrument performance.

True Tummy Time Mat for Infants

(Dr. Anne Zachry, Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Occupational Therapy

The tummy time mat system includes two removable positioning wedges of different sizes and a play wedge outfitted with developmentally stimulating multi-sensory toys and baby-safe mirror.  This differs from the traditional mats in that the other mat systems use a prop pillow that puts unnecessary pressure on the baby’s armpits, while this system is designed such that form-fitting foam wedges position the baby at a slight incline, which shifts the baby’s weight toward his/her lower back and hips (away from armpits), thus providing more comfort to the baby.

JAK Protac – Small Molecule Conjugates of JAK1/JAK2 Inhibitor Binders for Treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

(Dr. Jaeki Min, The Center Leader of The Chemical Biology Center at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

Researchers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have developed JAK2 (Janus kinases 2) degraders utilizing PROTAC (PROteolysis TArgeting Chimera) technology as an emerging new therapeutic modality in precision medicine. To achieve this goal, we developed a series of JAK2 PROTACs via small molecule JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor conjugates with IMiDs (Immunomodulatory imide drugs) which is CRBN (Cereblon) E3 ligase binders. This novel hetero-bifunctional molecules can be used for the treatment of CRLF2r and JAK-STAT driven ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) to overcome current imitated efficacy of existing JAK2 inhibitors on the market by applying PROTAC technology to degrade target protein (JAK2) instead of functional inhibition by acting as different MOA (Mode of Action) compare to conventional JAK2 inhibitor drugs that showed poor clinical outcome.

Combination Therapy for Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

(Dr. Larry Pfeffer, Murhead Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UTHSC and Dr. Duane Miller, Van Vleet Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UTHSC)

UTHSC researchers have developed small molecule inhibitors for use in treatment of GBM. Preliminary studies have shown that the novel inhibitors used in conjunction with current treatments such as temozolomide (TMZ) or carmustine a) significantly reduced cell proliferation of tumor initiating stem-like cells in vitro, b) enhanced animal survival after GBM tumor initiation as compared to the combination of TMZ with PFI-3 (a known bromodomain inhibitor), and c) reduced brain tumor volume.

Methods for Detecting Circulating Tumor Cells and/or Extracellular Vesicles 

(Dr. Xiaohua Huang, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Memphis)

Researchers at the University of Memphis have developed a method for detecting a circulating tumor cell (CTC) in a sample with a Raman reporter coated iron oxide-gold core-shell nanoparticle conjugated to a specific binding pair capable of specifically binding with the CTC; and detecting the presence of the Raman reporter coated iron oxide-gold core-shell nanoparticle bound to the CTC by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, thereby detecting the CTC.  The method involves the use of highly sensitive and specific surface enhanced Raman scattering nanotags to detect and quantify surface proteins on membrane bound vesicles that are captured on a substrate. Assay methods can be developed for research tools or clinical testing using various biological samples

Methods for Producing a Biodegradable Chitosan Composition and Methods Thereof

(Dr. Amber Jennings, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Memphis)

This technology provides an improved method for generating biodegradable chitosan composition. This can be used to deliver therapeutic agents to surgical sites which are prone to infections. Even with aggressive therapies and systemic antibiotic treatment, infections remain a significant source of morbidity and mortality. Because current methods for treating or preventing infection, particularly infections related to open fractures, are inadequate, improved compositions and methods for providing agents to prevent or treat an infection at a site of trauma are urgently required

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