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3D FIBER OPTIC INTERFEROMETER
Interferometry is a measurement technique that involves the superimposition of light waves, providing distance measurements with great accuracy. Highly accurate 3D measurements can only be made at the expense of time.
The 3D fiber optic interferometer directly measures three- dimensional distance and position with high speed and precision. The device uses light from single mode optical fibers to determine the distance between points in space. It does not require careful alignment of the fibers and can provide determination of absolute position. This device could be utilized in a number of manufacturing and robotic applications since it overcomes many of the difficulties associated with the distance between two articulating points. The device is accurate over one meter distances and would be most useful in machine shops employing large batch statistical process control manufacturing.
3D IN VIVO VASCULAR STENT RECONSTRUCTION
Stent strut malapposition has been shown to increase the possibility of stent thrombosis, and is the cause of stent failure in up to 34 percent of stent failures. The emerging gold standard for detecting stent malapposition is optical coherence tomography (OCT). Yet, OCT imaging is unable to assess the complete area of the stent, causing clinical decision-making to be based on subjective stent size cut-off points.
University of Utah researchers have developed fully-automated software to enhance OCT imaging with diffeomorphic mapping techniques. This software enables visualization of the entire stent with high definition. Such high-resolution reconstruction allows for more precise evaluation of procedural success and the need for post-deployment interventions.
3D PRINTING IN THE BODY
Implantable medical devices, such as artificial joints, coronary stents, and artificial organs increasingly are customized for individual patients using 3D printing technologies. After surgical implantation of externally printed devices, the soft tissue surrounding the implant or repaired bone must heal on its own. This process can result in disfiguration and debilitating scar tissue. Short-term implants provide temporary tissue support to assist the healing process, but eventually require surgical removal.
The proposed invention facilitates printing soft structures inside the body. Heat-enabled cross-linking polymers are inserted into a body cavity as a liquid and then activated with heat, causing them to solidify. The polymers conform to a specific shape creating 3D soft structures directly in the body. The technology could repair soft tissue damage, as well as create reconstructive implants or antennae for improved transmissivity.
5-HT2B SELECTIVE INHIBITORS
Novel family of 5HT2B-selective antagonists for neuropathologies, such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression, ADHD, and migraines. Potential application in cardiology, gastroenterology, and bone marrow diseases.
Serotonin receptors are popular targets for many diseases, particularly neuropathologies. The existence of 14 subtypes, however, necessitates selective ligands. Current drugs tend to bind non-selectively to 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C as well as 5-HT2B, limiting their use. The proposed antagonists offer increased selectivity to 5-HT2B. These compounds exhibit nanomolar to micromolar selective interactions, which increases efficacy and reduces side effects of therapeutics. 5HT2B has additional potential applications in gastrointestinal, cardiac, and bone marrow related conditions.
ACTIVATION PATTERN PERMUTATION COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY OF CARDIAC CONDUCTION
Sudden cardiac death is often associated with arrhythmia, which affects over three million people each year in the United States. These patients are at increased risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death. Risk of developing an arrhythmia can be determined through the identification of cardiac conduction abnormalities, but that method falls short of monitoring the health of the cardiac tissue itself.
Measuring the conduction velocity of electrical impulses through heart tissue determines the health of that tissue. A standard clinical loop catheter is used to extract longitudinal and transverse conduction velocities. These velocities are indicative of various disease states, providing clinicians with the exact location of diseased tissue to improve patient treatment plans. A map of where the diseased tissue resides in the heart is generated for reference during the procedures, enhancing the treatment of heart defects, such as atrial fibrillation.
ACTIVELY VARIABLE TRANSMISSION FOR PROSTHETICS
There are about 185,000 lower limb amputations in the United States each year. Lower limb prosthetics often slow amputees’ gaits. Current active prosthetics are unable to optimize themselves to large changes in pace: For example, a motorized device optimized for stair climbing has a high transmission ratio that is unable to move fast enough to provide assistance walking.
Inventors at the University of Utah’s Bionic Engineering Lab have developed an actively variable transmission system capable of actively changing the crank length, and therefore, transmission ratio. The system incorporates sensors and microprocessors to transition automatically between locomotion modes such as walking, running, ascent, and
ACUTE MYELOID LEUKEMIA COMBINATION THERAPY
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is an aggressive cancer with a five-year survival rate under 50 percent. In fact, only about one-third of AML patients are considered healthy enough to safely undergo chemotherapy, which leaves many patients without treatment options.
The proposed technology combines known AML drugs with HPMA polymers to prolong the active half-life of the drugs. This improves targeting of the tumor site and reduces off-target side effects. As each drug works through a different mechanism, the cancer cells are eliminated more completely, meaning lower doses of the drug may be used. This therapy provides treatment options for patients too sick to undergo chemotherapy or who prove non- responsive to existing, first-line treatments.
ADENO-ASSOCIATED VIRAL VECTORS FOR AMD TREATMENT
Contrary to advances in treating wet AMD, dry AMD continues to elude modern therapeutics and there are no effective or established treatments despite dry AMD comprising 90% of all AMD incidences.
Researchers at the University of Utah have recently developed a potential gene therapy for the treatment of wet and dry AMD using adeno-associated viral vectors that inhibit the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS have been linked to the disease progression of AMD. The inventors have shown that the activation of an enzyme, Rap1a, in retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) can reduce ROS generation. Sub-retinal injections of the viral vector into mice result in a modest improvement in the expression of Rap1a after immunostaining of mouse retinal tissue. Further validation of the vector could enable the creation of the first effective therapeutic for dry AMD and an alternative treatment option for wet AMD.
AEROGEL MEMBRANE FABRICATION PROCESS
Aerogels lack connectivity between pores, which limits their use in environmental remediation and hazardous waste disposal.
A new aerogel fabrication process increases interconnectivity between pores. This connectivity increases the aerogel’s surface area and improves its ability to capture hazardous volatiles. By combusting nitrocellulose, the aerogel is formed with higher porosity and greater adsorption capacity, which allows the aerogel to act as a filter. The aerogels can also be made with hydrophobic surfaces for use in water applications, such as specialized filters for contaminant removal. Additionally, the process can be tailored to create nano- to micron-scale interconnectivity.
Over 70,000 new cases of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) were diagnosed in 2015, while nearly 20,000 people died from the disease. Most NHL cases derive from B cell lymphocytes and are treated with rituximab and chemotherapy. Almost 40 percent of patients, however, develop resistance to these therapies.
Research indicates the proposed albumin- based nanoconjugate can trigger direct and specific apoptosis of B-cell lymphomas without the help of effector cells. Hybridization of two complementary morpholino oligonucleotides or complementary coiled-coil forming peptides at B cell surface mediates crosslinking of receptors to initiate apoptosis. One oligonucleotide (MORF1) or coiled-coil forming peptide (CCE) is bound to an antibody fragment recognized by the CD20 receptor (nanoconjugate 1); the complementary oligonucleotide (MORF2) or oligonucleotide (CCK) is bound in multiple copies to human albumin.
AMPLIFIED CHEMO-MECHANICAL COMB GAS SENSORS
Conventional capacitive vapor sensors (chemicapacitors) measure gas concentration by observing changes in capacitance between fixed conductive electrodes. Chemicapacitive sensors are robust devices, but cannot detect water vapor concentration corresponding to less than 2% relative humidity.
The proposed technology is a highly-sensitive chemicapacitor with a vapor absorbing layer. The layer absorbs volatile organic compounds, which increases stress on the interdigitated fingered capacitor and causes the fingers to bend. As the absorption layer approaches the other finger, an electrical signal is produced. This sensitivity increasing method is compatible with pre-existing chemicapacitive sensors, making its potential applications widespread.
ANCHOR, SPLICING, AND PRESTRESSING DEVICE FOR FRP RODS
Tens of thousands of US bridges and buildings, many over 50 years old, need repairs or are at risk of failure due to antiquated technology and materials. Fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composite rods have high strength-to-weight ratios and resist corrosion, but as yet have not been used widely in post-tensioning or in pre-stressing applications. Standard gripping anchors, when used with FRP rods used to repair infrastructure, place stress on individual fibers, leading to premature failures.
The proposed technology is an inexpensive anchor, splicing, and pre-stressing device for FRP rods. The device is simple to build and uses conventional materials such as steel and epoxy to achieve pre-stressing of FRP rods of any length. It makes FRP rods a more viable option for construction, significantly reducing costs and adding a successful FRP anchor for post-tensioning and pre-stressing applications.
ANESTHETIC VOLATILES SENSOR
Accurate anesthetic deployment is essential to successful surgical outcomes. Accordingly, current technology assesses the level of volatile anesthetic entering a patient through side stream infrared analysis. Yet, this highly accurate method of anesthetic sensing is cost prohibitive for low-income and resource-limited regions.
A novel low cost anesthetic volatiles sensor has been developed for use in resource-limited settings. The sensor includes tachometer and flow sensor readings typical in breathing circuits. The tachometer measures the revolutions per minute of the breathing circuit, while the flow sensor detects gas flow. The distinct readings between the two sensors indicate the proper anesthetic agent concentration and facilitate consistent anesthetic agent level monitoring.
ANTAGONIST OF TRPV1 RECEPTOR
Transient Receptor Potential Vanillaoid-1 (TRPV1) mediates pain and inflammation. Stimuli, such as heat, protons, and chemical ligands, generate action potentials that release neurotransmitters and neuroactive peptides to stimulate nerves causing a painful, burning sensation. Studies indicate inhibiting TRPV1 could suppress pain, as well as treat chronic pain and inflammatory hyperalgesia.
The proposed invention is a series of peptides that act as TRPV1 channel antagonists. These peptides are delivered to the TRPV1 channel using a carrier that prevents off-site toxicity, but still allows the antagonist to bind to the TRPV1 channel. The peptides can be delivered topically or intravenously for use in pain treatment.
ANTIBODY-DRUG COMPLEX: ENHANCED DELIVERY OF ANTI-CANCER THERAPY
The American Cancer Society states breast cancer is the second most common cancer and second leading cause of death among women in the United States, despite improvements in early detection, treatment, and survival. The preferred treatment involves targeted therapy, which uses selective antibodies and leaves normal cells relatively unharmed.
Conventional antibody-drug conjugate technology for breast cancer, however, is limited due to safety concerns about bonding that leads to low antibody concentration. A novel drug-delivery system combines cancer- specific targeting mechanisms with anti-cancer agents without chemical modifications. The conjugate is comprised of an ATP binding domain (ABD), an anti-cancer drug, and a scFv antibody that targets a specific receptor on the surface of a cancer cell. The fused protein captures an anti- cancer agent without creating a chemical bond and then delivers it to a cancer cell. The drug carrier also has intrinsic anti-proliferative properties that increase drug efficacy by depriving the cancer cell of ATP.
ANTIMICROBIAL CAP FOR EXTERNAL IMPLANT PROTRUSIONS
External fixation, in which an implant protrudes from the skin, is typical for lower limb amputees because it enables them to attach a prosthetic to their limb. Soft tissue infection at the skin-external fixator interface is a common condition that can spread to the internal prosthesis device. If prosthesis infection remains undetected, it usually requires surgical removal of the device.
University researchers have constructed an antimicrobial cap to mitigate infection complications of external fixators. The cap slips over the external portion of a fixator and covers the soft tissue surrounding it. The cap is imbued with an antimicrobial agent and fits closely to the soft tissue-fixator interface, providing long-lasting protection against infection.
Asthma is the most common chronic pediatric illness, with over 7 million children in the United States suffering from the disease and annual economic costs of over $20 billion. Asthma control tests address four weeks of asthma symptoms at one time and are not administered regularly. Failure to effectively monitor and manage asthma symptoms leads to increased asthma attacks, which typically results in emergency room visits, and poor quality of life.
Asthma Tracker improves asthma management by enabling self-monitoring of symptoms over smaller time periods. The online patient portal uses a questionnaire to assess asthma symptoms each week. Once the survey has been completed, a report is generated and sent to the primary care provider. Poor results trigger contact from a healthcare provider to discuss symptoms and schedule appointments as necessary.
AT-HOME BACK TRACTION DEVICE
Lower back pain affects over 80 percent of the United States population, with adverse effects ranging from minor discomfort to severe, incapacitating pain. In many cases, lumbar traction reduces discomfort and can help the body to heal by stretching the spine and reducing pressure on compressed disks. Equipment to support lumbar traction, however, can be costly, large, complicated, and inconvenient, which often prevents in home use. A popular home solution, the inversion table, can be unsafe and also ineffective because the position cannot maintained for the 15 minutes required for traction to occur.
This Back Traction Device is a simple, comfortable device that allows sustained lumbar traction sessions to relieve lower back pain. The device uses gravity to gradually distract tissue and vertebra, decompressing the lumbar spine as the patient lays on the floor. Treatable back pain includes discomfort from nerve impingement, stenosis, arthritis, and disc bulges.
Faculty, students, and performers at concert halls and music schools desire high-quality recordings to review rehearsals, document concerts, and prepare audition materials. Time and expense restraints, however, force most venues to limit recordings. Audio Minion facilitates professional quality recordings without the active participation of a sound engineer. In spaces where microphones are routed to a control room, the system automatically initiates recordings after detecting sound levels above predetermined thresholds. Recordings conclude after sound levels fall below the threshold for a set period of time. The program stores completed files by date and time in an easy to retrieve manner. The system allows on demand access to files for review and editing. Audio Minion can track multiple spaces independently and differentiate between recordings created in each room for retrieval.
AUGMENTED VIDEOLARYNGOSCOPY SYSTEM
Tracheal intubation requires placing a tube into the windpipe through the nose or mouth. This procedure is frequently performed in critically injured, ill, or anesthetized patients to facilitate lung ventilation and prevent asphyxiation or airway obstruction. The vast majority of tracheal intubations involve optical instruments, such as a video laryngoscope, to improve airway and vocal cord visualization. Conventional video laryngoscopes, unfortunately, fail to provide sufficient information to guide intubation.
The Augmented Videolaryngscopy System integrates with traditional video laryngoscopes, adding sensors, a microprocessor, and network connectivity. The new video laryngoscopy system provides improved visualization, audio and voice control features, onscreen display of auxiliary information, image information extraction for display, analysis, and processing. It also facilitates information-based treatment. This can be applied to perioperative anesthesia, critical care, emergency medicine, and battlefield trauma situations.
BACTERIAL BIOFILM STAINING DYE AND APPLICATION DEVICE
Biofilm-related infections pose a significant challenge to healthcare providers as they form a barrier impermeable to antibiotics. As a result, treatment of these infections typically requires debridement, a task burdened by the invisibility of biofilm to the naked eye. Methylene blue (MB) is a compound safe to humans that is known to bind to and stain biofilms without staining healthy tissue or prosthetic implants. Yet, there is no easy way to apply MB to tissues.
University of Utah researchers have created an application device for methylene blue stain. The device can be used for convenient and precise application of MB in vivo, allowing healthcare providers to easily identify bacterial biofilm-infected tissue for removal.
Autophagy is a cellular process that activates under conditions of nutrient stress. Excessive and long-term induction of autophagy leads to the destruction of essential proteins and organelles. It is also related to congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, and ischemia reperfusion.
The proposed precise formulation of an amino acid solution comprised of isoleucine, leucine, valine and arginine increases mTOR signaling and cell growth in patients with damaged tissues and heart disease. In addition, the osmolarity and pH of the solution allow it to be administered in large volumes without risk of significant osmotic shift.
BENZONORBORNADIENE DERIVATIVES AND REACTIONS
Biorthogonal dissociative reactions boast diverse potential applications in chemical biology and drug delivery. Specific cargo molecules within cells are released when benzonorbornadienes react with tetrazines to release amines from carbamate leaving groups. These carrier molecules are highly stable at physiological conditions, but react rapidly with tetrazines and near-quantitatively release cargo molecules such as drugs and optical reporters. The reactions are designed to take place without interfering with the existing cell chemistry and could serve a number of different purposes including DNA sequencing, cell imaging, drug delivery systems, and reaction protection groups.
BH4 (KUVAN) FOR TREATMENT OF SYSTEMIC SCLEROSIS VASCULOPATHY
Systemic Sclerosis (SSc) is a multisystem autoimmune disorder with a progressively devastating course. Increased fibroblast activity results in abnormal growth of connective tissue that causes vascular damage and fibrosis. Fibrosis occurs in the skin, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and other internal organs. There is no cure, effective therapy, or gold standard measurement for disease progression. Delay in diagnosis increases morbidity and mortality.
BH4 is a novel approach for treating SSc by targeting vasculopathy that precedes fibrosis. BH4 (KUVAN) is currently approved to treat phenylketonuria (PKU). Short term study results indicate that BH4 (KUVAN) alleviates SSc symptoms in patients.
BIMANUAL OPERATIVE BRONCHOSCOPE
Foreign body aspirations require urgent intervention to prevent life threatening complications. Rigid bronchoscopes facilitate removal of foreign objects and serve as an airway to maintain patient oxygenation during the procedure. Use of these bronchoscopes, however, is limited by complicated assembly, poor fit, and increased flow resistance.
A novel rigid bronchoscope improves the flow of gas during foreign body removal in pediatrics patients to prevent complications. The bronchoscope is a single system that contains a lighting and imaging system to provide continuous viewing of the airway. The proximal and distal ends allow for increased movement of instruments. A disposable cuff attached to the bronchoscope maintains positive pressure ventilation. The device requires minimal assembly and facilitates more efficient intervention to restore ventilation.
BIODEGRADABLE DRUG-DELIVERING NERVE CONDUIT
Over 25 percent of patients who undergo surgery for nerve injuries experience complications from scar tissue and infections. Less than 50 percent of patients recover full motor and sensory function after a peripheral nerve injury.
The Biodegradable Drug-Delivering Nerve Conduit aims to improve patient outcomes by regenerating nerves. A drug reservoir is attached to a biodegradable conduit that acts as a bridge between damaged and healthy nerves. It allows impulses to reach the damaged nerves and preserves muscle function. This technology also offers unique adaptability. It is able to release a variety of different proteins or small molecules and can also titrate drugs into a patient as necessary without a complete redesign of the technology.
BIOMARKERS FOR EARLY-STAGE PANCREATIC CANCER
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is diagnosed too late for treatments to be effective in approximately 80 percent of patients. Screening programs to detect early stage PDAC demonstrate low accuracy, limiting their use for diagnostics and disease monitoring. This leaves patients with only palliative care options and a less than five year prognosis.
University of Utah researchers have developed a biomarker panel supported by extensive studies across clinical samples to provide early screening for PDACs so that patients can receive early clinical intervention. The panel includes a key protein in the blood, basigin, which was found to be elevated in early stage pancreatic cancer patients, but not in late stage or healthy patients. A panel of biomarkers, including basigin, can discriminate between healthy subjects and patients with early stage cancer, with high sensitivity at 95 percent specificity thresholds.
Breast cancer causes over 40,000 deaths in the United States annually. Use of patient-derived tumorgrafts improves treatment efficacy, but availability of such models is limited. Novel models for breast tumor growth and metastasis, derived from patients and engrafted directly into the mammary glands of mice, increase access to patient-derived tumorgrafts. The model promotes angiogenesis, increases tumor growth, and facilitates maintenance of ER protein levels during serial propagation. With twelve developed tumorgraft lines, the model spans all major clinical breast cancer subtypes and several of the known molecular subtypes. The tumorgrafts recapitulate spontaneous metastasis with patterns similar to those observed in the original patients and serve as a critical indicator of patient outcome.
BROADBAND HOLOGRAPHIC PROJECTION DEVICE
Counterfeit goods cost the United States over $600B each year. The anti- counterfeiting industry continuously develops new technologies since market ready solutions do not eliminate all counterfeiting techniques. There is a particular need for stronger methods of anti-counterfeiting in the pharmaceutical, ticketing, and bank note industries.
The proposed technology enables full color holographic image projection across the electromagnetic spectrum for static or dynamic images with high efficiency and almost no absorption losses. The holographic images can operate in transmission or in reflection, making them incredibly difficult to counterfeit.
BROADLY PROTECTIVE INFLUENZA VACCINES
Influenza A causes seasonal epidemics that affect millions of people every year and result in the death of between 250,000 and 500,000 annually. These seasonal epidemics and pandemics arise because of the constant evolution of the virus through both mutations and genetic reassortment. Current flu vaccines are type-specific, and while these vaccines may be effective against the target strain, they fail to prevent illness from variant strains. Universal vaccines target stable viral epitopes rather than the continuously changing seasonal varieties, but fail to provide meaningful protection.
A novel methodology has been developed to create a more functional universal influenza vaccine. The vaccine is designed to block immune response to hemagglutinin primary antigenic determinants and elicit antibodies to less dominant antigens or proteins on the virus. This allows the immune system to recognize viral threats from non-selective proteins that are typically present in many variants of the virus, providing broader protection. The vaccine also uses antibody binding to interrupt essential viral functions and prevent spread of the disease.
CARDIAC TISSUE IMAGING CATHETER
Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), the most common cardiac arrhythmia, causes serious tissue damage to the heart and increases the risk of stroke and heart failure. Existing ablation techniques only prove successful approximately 50 percent of the time because it is difficult to distinguish between diseased and healthy heart tissue.
A novel device improves ablation success by combining imaging, electrical mapping, and navigation. The device differentiates between healthy and diseased tissue with microstructural detail. The catheter and accompanying software also enables electrical mapping of the tissues functionality. This allows clinicians to visualize information of tissue microstructure with functional data, providing an individualized atlas of regional structure and function that guides diagnosis and treatment. The device is deployed using a steerable sheath and integrates with existing
CATHETER TIP MONITORING SYSTEM
Cardiac tissue ablation is a technique used for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. Although approximately eighty percent of patients respond positively to ablation, poor visualization of the ablation catheter limits greater effectiveness. For example, inaccurate placement of the ablation radiofrequencies can cause unintended scars and recurrence of arrhythmia symptoms.
A novel monitoring system for magnetic resonance imaging-guided catheter ablation has been developed to enhance visualization. The system monitors catheter tip position relative to cardiac wall and tissue structures while ensuring contact between the ablation source and the target. Additionally, the imaging system better evaluates the quality of the ablation from the electrogram with electrogram-recording electrodes.
CATHETERIZED TISSUE MICROSTRUCTURE IMAGING DYE AND CATHETERIZED IMAGING
Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and causes serious tissue damage to the heart. AFib also increases the risk of stroke and heart failure. Existing ablation techniques only have about a 50 percent chance of success in treating AFib because clinicians do not have enough information about the extent and location of tissue damage. The proposed invention improves ablation treatment by providing real-time visualization of damaged tissues. A disposable probe characterizes tissue damage before, during, and after the ablation procedure. Computational imaging processing and electrical measurements are then used to transform sequences of two-dimensional images into complete, real-time images of the tissue. A steerable catheter can then position the ablation system using the images provided to ensure all damaged tissue is covered.
CAUTI PREVENTION WITH ADVANCECATH
Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) affect over one million patients in the United States annually and contribute to approximately 13,000 deaths and $1B in healthcare costs. Two-thirds of CAUTIs develop due to Foley catheter design flaws that limit urine flow and allow bacterial colonization on the catheter’s external surface.
AdvanceCath is a flexible, indwelling catheter that keeps the sphincter and prostate urethra open, which allows urine to flow around the entire catheter and eliminates the space where bacteria typically spreads. A condom-like catheter collects urine and stores it in a sterile bag. The system also has the ability to flush the urethra with an antibacterial solution to reduce risk of infection further. A bladder retention mechanism under development includes a fail-safe component that will collapse the retention component under excessive pressure and prevent damage to the urethra as the device is removed.
CdTe DEPOSITION PROCESS FOR SOLAR MODULES
Cadmium telluride (CdTe) films have become the leading alternative to polycrystalline silicon, which is used in photovoltaic (PV) technology, because CdTe offers similar efficiencies, but uses more abundant raw materials. Current CdTe films, however, have significant fabrication costs that result in high effective price per watt of CdTe based photovoltaics.
University of Utah researchers have developed a novel, low-temperature CdTe thin film deposition process to reduce CdTe manufacturing costs. The process is carried out at room temperature, with atmospheric pressure, using a spin coater to alternately deposit cadmium and tellurium onto a substrate. Standard rinse and thermal annealing processes follow deposition to improve crystalline quality. This process streamlines manufacturing of solar modules, maintaining efficiency while decreasing fabrication costs.
CELL SPECIFIC IMMUNE CHECKPOINT THERAPY
Almost 80 percent of patients undergoing immunotherapy experience toxicity complications that reduce drug efficacy and over 10 percent of patients experience life-threatening infections.
New immune-tolerant elastin-like polypeptides (iTEPs) can be used as drug carriers without triggering an immune response in both mice and humans (Journal of Drug Targeting. Vol.24, p328-339). This technology has been applied to both drug delivery and immunology. The technology improves delivery of vaccines by conjugating the drug to the iTEP, which then self-assembles into highly stable, non-toxic nanoparticles with improved efficacy (Theranostics. Vol. 6(5), p666-678). The iTEPs are also utilized to target cytotoxic T lymphocytes and improve innate immune response as defense against cancer and infection. An iTEP-delivered CTL vaccine containing a metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9)-sensitive peptide and a CTL epitope peptide has been developed. The MMP-9-sensitive vaccine increased epitope presentation by 7-fold, increasing the T-cell response by as high as 9.6-fold (Molecular Pharmaceutics, 14(10), 3312-3321). It has also been applied using αPD-1 antibody for checkpoint inhibition. A fusion protein consisting of a recombinant single-chain variable fragment of αPD-1 and an amphiphilic immune-tolerant elastin-like polypeptide self-assembles into a nanoparticle, which blocks the PD-1 immune checkpoint in vitro and in vivo (Molecular Pharmaceutics, 14(5), 1494-1500).
CHARGE STEERING HIGH DENSITY ELECTRODE ARRAY FOR DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has therapeutic benefits for neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, tremors, chronic pain, and dystonia. Existing DBS solutions utilize four-channel electrodes that only allow spherical charge distributions. This lack of targeting capability results in placement errors, with three to five insertions typically required for correct placement.
A new electrode array with enhanced circuitry enhances targeting and improves stimulation by enabling successful stimulation in spite of placement errors. The array uses a silicon backbone and seven wires for full control over an unlimited number of electrode contacts. The stimulation parameters can be controlled based on the neuroanatomical target by switching between contacts, facilitating effective DBS on the first insertion of the array into the brain. The high number of small contacts on the surface also allows nuanced control over the amount of tissue being excited.
CHEMICAL PERCOLATION SWITCH
Chemical sensors and electronic noise technology require continuous sources of energy and lack the ability to operate at low power, which limits their distribution. Sensors with low power consumption, however, have poor chemical selectivity.
The proposed technology is a chemically selective percolation sensor that can operate with zero or near-zero power consumption. The sensor includes a positive and negative electrode separated by a nano-sized switch gap. A binding agent, which differs based on the target compound, binds to the switch to form an electrically conductive-selective pathway via percolation between the positive and negative electrode. The switch connects to the power supply and switches on when exposed to a programmable threshold concentration of the target compound. Such low-energy use improves device life, reduces risk of detection, and requires less battery maintenance, and which is particularly applicable to military and defense applications. The switch can detect a wide range of chemical targets including chemical warfare agent aerosols and vapors, fuel and explosive vapors. For agricultural applications, the switch detects invasive parasitic plants.
CLINICAL CANCER RESEARCH SYSTEM
No common repository for cancer-specific clinical research data to support translational research exists. Programs have developed individual mechanisms for extracting, recording, and using clinical research data, which unnecessarily complicates cancer research.
The Clinical Cancer Research System aggregates all clinical and research investigations into one searchable database. This database is easy to maintain and simplifies information retrieval, which allows researchers to share basic patient information across cancer groups and complete cross-study analyses. The database also provides robust security that allows for separation and protection of patient and research information.
CLINICAL NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSOR
Clinical Natural Language Processing (NLP) systems require a semantic schema comprised of domain-specific concepts and associated modifiers to accurately extract information. NLP systems leverage this schema to extract meaning from texts. In the clinical domain, creating a schema requires input from clinicians and NLP experts.
The proposed technology bridges the gap between clinicians and the development of NLP systems by seamlessly analyzing data extracted from handwritten clinical notes to provide healthcare professionals with information that supports better decision making. A web-based software tool supports users in developing domain content. Content is integrated into a system that processes the handwritten clinical notes and subsequently provides actionable data to doctors and clinicians. The notes can be reviewed and corrected for accuracy. Additionally, users can search for specific annotations based on semantic content.
Motors were designed and optimized for industrial processes that require continuous smooth rotation, which typically requires minimization of cogging torque. These motors operate efficiently at high speeds, but must be geared down to achieve velocities and torques typically needed for robotics. This leads to inefficient motors with no inherent compliance. As compliance ensures safety and prevents damage to the robot, researchers have attempted to address the issue. Current solutions, however, require auxiliary components resulting in large, ineffective, and complex systems.
A new type of robot actuator, comprising an electromagnetic machine combined with a local controller implementing bioinspired motion primitives. The cogging-torque actuator will accept high-level commands and adjust its own behavior according to its local experience through a combination of controlled passive dynamics and high-bandwidth feedback control. This design will facilitate more robust operation by enabling distributed control, inherent sensing capability, controllable compliance, and leveraging the nonlinear dynamics of the actuator.
COILED COIL p53
p53 is a transcription factor that also stimulates apoptotic signaling through death receptors and the mitochondria. Over half of all cancer express p53 mutations and wild-type p53 is often introduced into cancer cells for treatment. Mutated p53, however, interacts with the wild-type p53 rendering it ineffective at suppressing tumors.
A novel form of p53 that contains a coiled-coil suppresses tumor activity without interacting with mutant p53. The coiled-coil causes the new p53 to interact only with itself, preventing dimerization. The p53 coiled-coil can be introduced into tumor cells without causing dominate-negative effect. It triggers a rapid apoptotic response and maintains full tumor suppression properties.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) leads to almost 50,000 deaths in the United States annually. CRC treatment require patients to undergo tumor resection and, in later stages, chemotherapy. Early-stage progression of CRC and risks associated with chemotherapy, however, have caused physicians to question the benefits of chemotherapy in stage II patients. A novel model of CRC tumors allows for testing of drug efficacy prior to treatment. Using a patient-derived CRC tumor, a xenograft is implanted into an immune-deficient mouse in the most physiologically-relevant location. This implantation creates a personalized and high-fidelity model of that person’s tumor. Accurate patient-derived models can be used to determine the most effective treatment method for individual patients. These models are also serially propagatable, creating ample opportunities for research, drug testing, and development of new therapies.
COMBINATORIAL GENE CONSTRUCT AND NON-VIRAL DELIVERY FOR ANTI-OBESITY
Obesity is a risk factor for a variety of conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Single target protein therapies demonstrate poor efficacy as the body adapts quickly, activating alternate mechanisms to maintain its original state. Combinatorial approaches produce better results, but also greater side effects, leading to increased costs that limit patient compliance.
A novel combinatorial gene construct delivered using a non-viral vector demonstrates improved ability against obesity without significant side effects. The gene construct utilizes two genes that have key roles in the regulation of feeding inhibition, gastric emptying, and energy expenditure. These genes are administered with non-viral polymeric vector linear polyethylenimine, which is less toxic than other polymer vectors and not recognized by the immune system. The therapeutic efficiently transports DNA throughout the blood when administered weekly via intraperitoneal injections.
COMPACT COMPLIANCE TACTILE FEEDBACK DEVICE
Haptics, the science of interfacing with users via touch, is being used to provide sensory input to users in various applications, including robotic surgery, touch screen displays, and navigational systems. While robotic or automated instruments allow users to manipulate physical objects in a remote or virtual environment, they insufficiently communicate tactile information to users. Users have to rely instead entirely on visual information decreasing efficacy. Robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery (MIS), in particular, allows for greater precision and control but relies on high-quality visual systems to guide procedures. Surgeons simply cannot feel tactile changes and the impacts of surgical tools within a body cavity.
The Compact Compliance Tactile Feedback Device provides a rendering of surfaces based on the stiffness of the surface in question. The device calibrates based on the user’s force and displacement and communicates tactile feedback to the user through pressure or directional motion.
CONSENT BUILDER: IRB CONSENT FORM GENERATOR
Consent form creation for multicenter trials can be complex, requiring site-specific injury, consent, and HIPAA language. The key study information in each consent document must be consistent between sites, with only local language differences, to enable the reviewing IRB to review a single consent document for each study.
University of Utah researchers have developed an electronic consent building tool that enables the creation of multiple consent and parental permission and assent documents for a single study. Consent Builder guides research staff through the required consent form sections with instructions and examples. Consent language is collected via online data collection forms through REDCap and then, once study information is collected, research staff can output consent forms by selecting a study and site, and clicking on the “generate forms” button. The tool aggregates the study and consent information in REDCap, and then merges it with a LaTeX template. The LaTeX template organizes and compiles the data and produces a high-quality informed consent document.
CONTINUOUS REAL-TIME MONITOR TO DETECT ACUTE KIDNEY INJURY RISK
Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common surgical complication that affects up to 50 percent of ICU patients. It leads to increases in mortality, hospital stays, and costs. Early detection of changes in renal function is critical to prevent disease progression. Existing methods of monitoring kidney health, however, take hours to obtain results and fail to detect changes until after kidney injury has occurred. The proposed technology enables continuous, real-time monitoring of urine flow and kidney health. Low oxygen is a major determinant of AKI. By placing a probe in pre-existing catheter technologies, the monitor measures oxygen tension in the urine to facilitate early detection and intervention of AKI.
COPOLYMER DRUG DELIVERY SYSTEM FOR ANTIANGIOGENETIC THERAPIES
Recent studies show that amino bisphosphonates, such as alendronate (ALN), inhibit angiogenesis. Additionally, polymer-drug conjugates have been shown to increase the half-life of low molecular weight drugs, water solubility, and tumor accumulation.
The proposed technology is a combined targeted therapy made by conjugating angiogenesis inhibitors ALN and TNP-470 to a copolymer backbone. In vitro studies provide evidence that this copolymer-drug conjugate targets both tumor epithelial and endothelial compartments. These results indicate that the proposed technology represents a promising therapy for osteosarcomas and bone metastases.
CORE FACILITY SCHEDULING AND BILLING SYSTEM
Core facilities rely on their internal operations to function smoothly. Yet, in a survey of 156 core facilities, over 50 hours per month were spent on managing business that included tracking requests, staff, inventory, and billing.
The University of Utah’s core facilities administrators have developed a billing and scheduling laboratory inventory management system (LIMS). The LIMS system enables control, scheduling, and billing services across multiple departments. This system facilitates coordinated use of instruments and resources. Email notifications are sent to appropriate users following major system events, and all records are stored and easily accessible to administrators.
CORRECTING NONLINEAR CALIBRATION IN MASS SPECTROMETRY
Stable isotope labeled internal standards are widely used in mass spectrometry. Isotopic interference between signals of the internal standard and the analyte, however, causes nonlinear calibration, which limits the dynamic range and produces inaccurate assessments of analyte concentration.
Application of two equations to mass spectrometry expands the range of analysis by generating a more accurate fit and correcting the inherent bias for many analyte/internal standard pairs. This process allows for corrections to nonlinear data, enabling the use of analyte/internal standard combinations that would otherwise be impractical. This approach removes much of the difficulty associated with use of stable labeled internal standards, such as labeling, isotope effects, and cost.
CRISPRi EPIGENOME MODIFICATION TO TREAT MUSCULOSKELETAL DISEASE
Musculoskeletal diseases are a leading cause of disability worldwide. Current treatments for osteoarthritis and low back pain (LBP), however are largely palliative and fail to prevent disease progression. Stem cell delivery treatment to the intervertebral disc in clinical trials may work, albeit on a short-term basis as cells succumb to inflammatory responses.
The proposed technology is an innovative CRISPR-based approach that temporarily silences specific pro-inflammatory genes to regenerate the disc to full functionality. This approach promotes cell survival, stem cell differentiation, and immunomodulation under inflammatory conditions. The epigenome editing vector package can be locally injected, or autologous cells can be modified and delivered to replace the lost disc tissue. Studies with dorsal root ganglion demonstrate inhibition of degenerative intervertebral disc neuron activity and preservation of non-pathologic activity.
CT & MRI IMAGE RECONSTRUCTION FROM SPARSE DATA WITHOUT PRIORS
CT scans typically involve acquiring 1000+ individual x-ray images, which exposes the patient to a large amount of radiation. For younger patients, this is potentially harmful. MRI typically involves acquiring 256 individual images which takes 30 minutes to 1 hour, adding cost and leading to patient discomfort. Therefore, it is beneficial to reduce the number of images required to do a CT scan or MRI. However, fewer images leads to more image artifacts and lower resolution. Others have tried to use a numerical technique called linear interpolation to determine what is in-between the coarser layers of the reduced-image scan, but results are often not satisfactory.
This technology uses a revolutionary numerical technique called a displacement function to interpolate what is in between the coarser layers. Testing has showed it is capable of providing a higher resolution final image than the current state of the art.
CYCLIC PEPTIDE LIBRARIES
Cyclic peptide libraries of novel compounds serve as valuable collections for researchers to mine for new therapeutics. The proposed methods for creating cyclic peptide libraries utilize biosynthetic pathways from various organisms. The enzymatic steps are broken into individual components and then reassembled in unique ways to generate large collections of novel chemical entities (NCEs).
One method uses amide-linked peptides created in vivo by expression of constructs in E. coli. Another method centers on prenylated compounds created from marine ascidian enzymes, again expressed in E. coli. The final method utilizes natural pathways from sponges to synthesize compounds for libraries. Methods to increase the yield and potency of peptides, specifically cyanobactin and prenylated peptides, in the libraries have also been developed.
DATA EXCHANGE FOR POISON CONTROL CENTERS
Communication between poison control centers (PCCs) and healthcare providers is telephone or fax-based; PCCs do not have access to the Health Information Exchange (HIE). Healthcare providers often make treatment decisions without reviewing all of the supporting documentation due to the delay in transferring information and data errors.
New software streamlines the data transfer process between PCCs and healthcare facilities by facilitating PCC participation in the HIE. The software allows PCC employees to create HL7 consolidated-CDA consultation notes that meet HIE standards using current PCC information systems. The data is then sent through the HIE to healthcare facilities. Healthcare providers can then send information, such as discharge summaries, back to the PCC. This also enables monitoring of hospital cases by poison control specialists because the specialists can parse and display contents of both sent and received documents.
DEBUGGING MACHINE LEARNING SYSTEMS
Developers are unable to debug, optimize, or even understand the processes that generate machine learning outputs due to the complexity of machine learning systems. This “black box” problem of machine learning poses significant limitations to widespread implementation of artificial intelligence.
A University of Utah researcher has developed software for “cracking open” the machine learning black box. This software integrates systems analysis with machine learning to force machine learning systems to express a linear dynamic systems equation. The linear equation is tested in conjunction with a machine learning technique that tests nonlinear relationships. The combination of these techniques enables mapping of machine learning internal processes over time.
DIAGNOSING BIPOLAR DISORDER USING MAGNETIC RESONANCE SPECTROSCOPY
Bipolar Disorder (BD) is the fourth leading cause of disability among young people ages 10 to 24 globally. BD severely impacts quality of life by causing shifts in mood, energy, behavior, and ability to function. Many people suffer for years before obtaining an accurate diagnosis. New evidence links mitochondrial dysfunction in the brain to Bipolar Disorder.
Indicators of mitochondrial function in the brain can be measured using 31- Phosphorus Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (31P-MRS). A novel algorithm that compares mitochondrial function, as determined by 31P- MRS scans, to normal levels provides objective and reliable diagnoses. Additional scans could assess efficacy of prescribed treatments by comparing current mitochondrial function to patients’ initial levels.
DIAGNOSTIC FOR EPILEPSY AND FEBRILE CONVULSIONS
Febrile seizures are the most common seizure disorder in infants, with a prevalence of 2-5 percent in Europe and North America. Complications of febrile convulsions include the development of afebrile seizures and epilepsy later in life. The current standard of care involves Phenobarbital or Valproate with significant risks and potential adverse effects. Yet, simple febrile seizures have no proven risks. On the basis of risk/benefit analysis, neither long-term nor intermittent anticonvulsant therapy is indicated for children who have experienced one or more simple febrile seizures.
University of Utah researchers have created a rapid PCR-based test to determine patients’ risk for neurological disorders such as seizures and epilepsy. The test compares the subject’s Nav1.7 haplotype to a reference haplotype. Each haplotype can be correlated with specific neurological disorders and the severity of those disorders. This approach enables patient stratification according to risk of seizure and development of curated treatment plans that mitigate unnecessary adverse events in patients with low risk for seizure.
DIAGNOSTIC MARKER AND THERAPEUTIC TARGET FOR EWING’S SARCOMA
Ewing’s Sarcoma is an aggressive and highly metastatic bone or soft tissue associated tumor in children and young adults. These tumors frequently progress undetected until they metastasize, whereupon the mortality of the disease greatly increases. Identifying Ewing’s tumors typically involves detection of CD99 and EWS/FLI expression that have limited sensitivity and specificity.
Gene ontology (GO) analysis and subsequent studies in tumor tissues has verified NKX2.2 gene or protein expression as an important contributor to
the neural characteristics of the tumor. The invention describes a quantitative approach to measuring NKX2.2 expression as a sensitive approach to diagnosing Ewing’s tumors. Additional biology studies have shown that blocking NKX2.2 expression causes Ewing’s Sarcoma cells to lose their oncogenic phenotype, which suggests additional therapeutic applications.
DIAGNOSTIC TOOL FOR MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER AND BIPOLAR DISORDER
Similar presenting symptoms make it difficult to distinguish between Bipolar Disorder (BD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) leading nearly 70 percent of patients to be misdiagnosed initially. Incorrect diagnoses results in delays in appropriate treatment and increased costs to the healthcare system. Adolescents experience higher choline levels in the anterior cingulate cortex when suffering from MDD than BD. Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) provides information regarding the biochemistry of specific regions in the brain.
A novel algorithm, developed by researchers at the University of Utah, processes spectroscopic data to provide total choline levels, which can then differentiate between the two diseases. Additional scans can be used to assess efficacy of prescribed treatments for both diseases by comparing current choline levels to the patient’s initial scan and levels of healthy patients.
DIAGNOSTIC, PROGNOSTIC, AND THERAPEUTIC BIOMARKER FOR EWING’S SARCOMA
Ewing’s Sarcoma is an aggressive and highly metastatic bone or soft tissue associated tumor in children and young adults. These tumors frequently progress undetected until they metastasize, whereupon the mortality of the disease greatly increases. Many tumors develop resistance to current first-line treatments, yet no tool exists that distinguishes prior to treatment between resistant and sensitive tumors.
Glutathione-S-transferase M4 (GSTM4) has been identified as a major contributor to tumorigenesis and drug resistance in Ewing’s Sarcoma. Patients with higher levels of GSTM4 typically have worse treatment outcomes, meaning determination of GSTM4 expression levels should enable earlier diagnosis and serve as a predictor for patient outcomes. Furthermore, reduction of GSTM4 levels increases sensitivity of Ewing’s Sarcoma cells to chemotherapeutic agents and reduces oncogenic transformation.
DIAMOND-POLYMER CONSTRUCT FOR CATALYTIC REACTIONS
Over 75 percent of chemical synthesis utilizes catalysts. During catalytic reactions, reactants compete for active surface sites, leading to unstable, high energy sites. This causes particle aggregations and reduces catalytic activity. The use of constructs reduces catalyst aggregation, but these silica-based materials demonstrate poor stability in extreme conditions.
This new material is a robust diamond-polymer construct which demonstrates improved stability in a variety of reaction conditions. The catalytic nanoparticle has a nanodiamond core, with a thin-layer polymer applied to the outer surface of the core and a catalyst immobilized outside of the polymer film. Radical initiated polymerization modifies the surface of the diamond to allow compatibility and adhesion for catalytic materials. The diamond interior is nearly indestructible mechanically and will not react to acids, bases, solvents, or moderately elevated temperatures. The polymer exterior is also chemically robust and stable, making it suitable for industrial, biological, aqueous, and nonpolar catalysis reactions.
DIGITALLY TUNABLE COMPONENTS FOR 5G & M-MIMO
5G telecommunications are anticipated to reach the market in 2020. As 5G emerges, so too are technologies to facilitate its implementation. Yet, the majority of technologies available increase chip area requirements and have high power consumption.
University of Utah researchers have developed a delta-sigma modulated switched capacitor transmitter, frequency tunable digital power amplifiers, and a multiphase beam steering transmitter ideal for 5G applications. This tunable modular approach allows flexible hardware configuration, such as placing components at the antenna, improving
DIRECT-WRITE MASKLESS NANOLITHOGRAPHY
Commercially available nano- or micro-scale lithography machines require the use of expensive equipment and have large physical footprints. Additionally, available electron beam lithography machines are low-throughput, restricting use to research and development and low-volume production of semiconductor devices.
University of Utah researchers have developed an economical table-top-sized electron beam lithography machine that is high throughput. This technology patterns photoresist between two UV polarizers to direct-write customizable patterns without a mask. Potential patterns include straight, curved, array, and isolated.
DRUG-FREE TARGETED TUMOR KILLING WITH MULTIMERIC ANTIBODY CONJUGATE
Monoclonal antibodies show limited clinical efficacy as a single agent therapy for solid and blood cancers. The requisite high doses result in undesired adverse immunogenicity and toxicity. Conjugating antibodies to cytotoxic drug shows durable clinical response. However, antibody drug conjugate designing is complex, with knowledge of linkers, drug and antibody combinations in the context of a specific cancer.
University of Utah researchers are developing a new approach for modifying and improving antibody avidity by using graphene oxide (GO) as a targeted delivery scaffold. The GO-based aqueous composition allows non-covalent association of multiple antibody molecules on individual GO molecules, resulting in high efficacy antibodies.
DUAL-GATE FET CHEMICAL SENSOR
Detection of chemical species in gas or vapor phases is a rapidly growing field. Detection can be used as a warning system for chemical and biological threats, as well as to monitor air quality concerns. These sensors generally fall into two categories: sensing semiconductors and sensing gates. Sensing semiconductors have poor selectivity, while sensing gates have poor sensitivity. Additionally, state-of-the-art chemical sensors are expensive and material-dependent. They also require specific conditions for proper operation.
The dual gate field effect transistor (DG-FET) combines sensing semiconductor and sensing gate technologies to provide both high chemical sensitivity and high selectivity. The top gate is functionalized for sensitivity to ammonia and interacts with the analyte. The bottom gate drives the transistor into saturation to enhance sensitivity. The DG-FET chemical sensor can be easily tailored to detect a wide range of chemicals by changing the functional layer alone. Additionally, this sensor is highly conductive and can be used with off-the-shelf electronics, which reduces manufacturing and circuitry costs.
DYE CARRIER FOR DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING OF BODY TISSUES
Fluorescence microscopy enables the study of molecular and morphologic changes in biological specimens with micrometer resolution, providing valuable diagnostic information. Fluorescence microscopy is difficult to use for examination of living tissue, however, because of the need for close association between microscope instrumentation and the imaged tissue, as well as the high concentration of fluorescent dyes required for microscopy.
A disposal dye carrier attached to imaging instruments allows physicians to diagnose tissue without extracting tissue from the body. The carrier consists of a foam-hydrogel composite filled with fluorescent dye. The carrier releases the dye to diffuse throughout the tissue to a depth of 1 mm. Dye release is controlled by the composition of the carrier. The carriers are designed to be used with in vivo imaging instruments which send and receive light to and from the dye to enable live tissue imaging during diagnostic and surgical procedures. The images provide clinicians with a map of the tissue microstructure.
EARLY-STAGE DETECTION OF PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS
Almost half of pregnant women experience complications that increase their risk of maternal mortality and perinatal morbidity. When complications are identified early, treatment can reduce the risk of premature delivery and maternal fatalities. Studies indicate that early administration of therapeutic agents, particularly for preeclampsia, reduces the risk of severe complications during labor and delivery by up to 95 percent and decreases incidence of premature births. Fetal health screens, however, have a sensitivity of less than 25 percent before the 16th week, preventing early detection.
A new screening tool identifies pregnancies at risk of disease or prematurity at as early as 12 weeks. The test measures Doppler blood flow velocities to assess coherence between maternal and fetal blood flow, an indicator of various disease states. This enables first trimester detection of fetal and maternal health concerns and allows effective, preventive treatments to start early in the second trimester.
EEG-GUIDED ANESTHESIA FOR THE TREATMENT OF SEVERE DEPRESSION
Treatment-resistant depression is sometimes treated by electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), where the patient is anesthetized and administered electric shocks to the skull. However, acceptance of ECT is limited because of the potential for memory loss and the perceived crudeness of the procedure.
Research has indicated that inactivation of certain parts of the brain – through deep anesthesia – for a period of time can also have positive effects on severe depression. The properly reduced level of brain activity needed to treat severe depression is indicated when an electroencephalogram (EEG) shows a “burst suppression” pattern. This invention describes a closed-loop system where the anesthetic delivery system monitors the patient’s EEG and automatically adjusts the flow of anesthesia to keep the brain at the proper level of activity to treat depression.
ELECTRICALLY SHIELDED CONTAINMENT SYSTEM FOR HIGH-COUNT ELECTRODE ARRAYS
Nervous system disorders represent one of the nation’s largest healthcare problems, afflicting more than 100 million people in the United States annually. Electrode arrays are emerging as premier neuroprosthetic interfaces for restoring sensory, motor, and other functions after nervous system damage or disease. While electrode arrays depend on action potentials to function properly, action potentials generated by nerves are relatively weak compared to surrounding physiological signals. This weakness obstructs clear array recording and stimulation.
University of Utah researchers have developed an electrically shielded containment system for high-count electrode arrays to combat signal contamination. This containment system consists of a gold screen that is connected electrically to ground and surrounds the array, reducing electrical noise contamination.
ELECTROMYOGRAPHIC SIGNAL PROCESSING FOR PROSTHETICS
There are over 2 million amputees in the United States, all of whom face challenges that impact their quality of life. Innovations in myoelectric prosthetics are emerging that enable better prosthetic-amputee control and interaction, and displace passive, older prosthetics. Yet, current models of myoelectric prosthetics rely on low degree-of-freedom decoding methods that create obstacles to graded movements and require significant contractile force to stimulate.
Software designed using a Kalman filter enables individual digit, wrist, elbow, and shoulder control for transhumoral and above amputees. The algorithm allows real-time, proportional, intuitive control of the prosthetic, with no need for recalibration. This gives prosthetics capabilities more akin to natural limbs and improves users’ quality of life.
ELONGATE MEMBER REINFORCEMENT WITH A STUDDED COLLAR
In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s infrastructure a D+, based on the country’s crumbling infrastructure. Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites, which are lightweight, corrosion resistant, and have a high strength to weight ratio, show promise for strengthening and rehabilitating structures, but can be cost prohibitive.
The proposed device utilizes FRP to strengthen or reinforce columns, pipes, and walls at a lower cost. The device secures a support layer to a structure with a collar to facilitate load transfer between the structure and support layer, enhancing the overall strength and durability of the structure.
ENVIRONMENTAL DISPERSION SOFTWARE
Continuous commercial and residential developments have negatively impacted the environment by constraining resources, while increasing noise and air pollution. Computational dynamics solvers simulate the interaction between infrastructure and the environment, allowing civil engineers to understand environmental variables that impact design. Use of these simulations, however, is limited by time constraints because model development often takes multiple days.
The Environmental Dispersion Software evaluates various design scenarios by rapidly simulating relevant climate variables. The software uses traditional central processing and new graphics processing units to produce solutions based on buildings, vegetation, and other parts of a city more rapidly than traditional computational dynamics solvers. The Environmental Dispersion Software computes wind speed/direction, turbulence, air temperature, humidity, and atmospheric radiation in a given area. The software also evaluates how these factors, as well as dispersion and deposition of particle contaminants, will affect buildings and vegetation. The software can be used to evaluate urban designs for optimal air quality, energy use, and environmental impact.
ERYTHROPOIETIN GENE DELIVERY FOR MYOCARDIAL INFARCTION TREATMENT
Myocardial infarction is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Although cardiac remodeling can maintain normal function initially, it gradually becomes maladaptive, leading to adverse outcomes, including heart failure. A novel approach for delivering plasmid human erythropoietin gene through an Arginine-grafted Bioreducible Polymer shows promise as a gene therapy tool for treating myocardial infarction. This treatment reverses post-infarct cardiac remodeling and restores heart function. Research suggests that this bioreducible delivery vector can revive the therapeutic potential of erythropoietin and other cardioprotective genes, allowing use as an effective treatment.
ConText, a widely used, open-source clinical natural language processing algorithm, tries to confirm that information extracted from a clinical note applies to the appropriate patient and visit and is not negated. The process, however, is time consuming as it must follow over 600 rules.
FastConText is a more efficient, scalable implantation of ConText suitable for large- scale clinical natural language processing. The algorithm determines contextual features of information from clinical notes by identifying negation, temporality, and experience using generalized rule processing. The new algorithm adds additional rules that improve both the speed and accuracy of natural language processing.
FINBLADE: SUBCUTANEOUS CUTTING DEVICE
Certain medical procedures, such as carpal tunnel release, require cutting subcutaneous tissue. In many of these procedures, swelling or malformation of tissues impacts nearby nerves and causes pain. Cutting the swollen or malformed tissue can provide more space for impinged nerves. In order to cut the targeted tissue, however, a cutting device must be able to both reach the targeted tissue and be removed from the patient. In open surgery for carpal tunnel release, clinicians make a 5 cm incision that takes up to 14 days to heal. Endoscopic surgery, the current alternative, entails two 1.5 cm incisions and has a 4 – 8 day recovery time.
The Subcutaneous Cutting Device can be inserted like a needle or with the aid of a sub-centimeter incision, lowering recovery time substantially. Ultrasound allows visualization of the affected structure, as well as the device, in real time, thereby preventing misplacement of the needle and cutting of the wrong tissue. This device has additional applications for cyst punctures or incisions, muscle release, nerve incision, adhesion release, and tenotomy.
FLEXIBLE LOAD TRANSDUCER (FLEx) SENSOR
Sensors used to measure force load under the foot rely on strain gauge technologies that are often inaccurate and expensive.
The proposed technology is a conformable, biomechanical force sensor that increases accuracy and decreases costs. This novel sensor is comprised of a flexible and compliant substrate with discrete sensors and electronic circuitry embedded in a protective cushioning layer. The sensors includes power, measurement, calibration, and data communication functions compatible with load monitoring, force sensing for touch human or robotic interfaces, gait monitoring and shoe inserts for medical, prosthetic, and athletic performance evaluation.
FLUORESCENCE SENSORS FOR RAPID DETECTION OF GAMMA-RAY RADIATION
Gamma radiation is widely used in nuclear relevant security, medical radiological therapy, and scientific research. When administered in high doses, however, it increases cancer risk and causes tissue damage. Additionally, greater awareness of the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism increases the need for instant detection of gamma radiation. Scientists and engineers have developed radiation detectors to measure the radiation dose. The accuracy of these devices is, unfortunately, limited by low sensitivity as well as energy and angular dependence.
The described optical sensor provides a cost-effective, easy-to-operate, and highly-sensitive gamma radiation detector. The sensor uses a novel molecule that emits blue fluorescence, which dissolves in halogenated solvents. The molecule experiences a reduction in emittance after contact with gamma rays. The acid interaction enables instant detection of gamma radiation down to the .01 Gy level.
FOOD & WATER BIOHAZARD ANALYZER
Current pathogen detection methods are time and cost intensive, requiring over 24 hours for testing and analysis. The proposed biohazard analyzer enables simultaneous detection of 15 different bacteria, protozoa, and viruses within three hours. The analyzer utilizes magnetic beads and antibodies to capture target pathogens. The resulting nanoshells allow even low concentrations to be detected through comparison with known samples. This device is transportable, enabling use as a laboratory bench-top sensor or as a fully automated sensor for remote areas, such as military deployment. This has potential applications for use in military deployment, humanitarian efforts, disaster relief, and food and beverage manufacturing.
FRACTURED RESERVOIR SIMULATOR
Fractured reservoirs are some of the most productive oil reserves in the world, but deviations in the geological formations surrounding the reservoir increase the time and cost of oil extraction. Oil and gas companies rely on advanced imaging techniques and computer generated models to determine how oil is flowing and manage surface parameters to get the most out of the reservoir. Fractured reservoir simulation, however, requires representing complex, irregular domains and complicated fracture networks that traditional simulation methods cannot handle.
The Fractured Reservoir Simulator uses control volume finite element formulations to enable field-wide reservoir simulation of complex domains and spatial fracture characterization. The simulator directly incorporates characterization of faults and fractures. Flux-based upstream weighting is employed to ensure flux continuity and solution stability. This enhances simulations by allowing for the combination of different physical and discretization models to cover a wider array of fractured reservoir characteristics.
FREE-FLOATING UTAH ARRAY
Neural microelectrodes are crucial to the development of neural prostheses used to restore lost motor or sensory functions in the body. However, due to their large and rigid base existing commercial devices (such as the Utah array) damage neural tissue. Additionally, use in clinical applications is limited by their short lifetime – typically a few months to several years.
A new variant of the Utah electrode array minimizes this damage using a bio-erodible substrate. A biocompatible and dissolvable material binds the matrix of electrodes. The substrate dissolves in biological fluid, leaving the electrode array needles freely floating within neural tissue. The free-floating electrode array, nicknamed the “Natural Buoyancy Utah Array” uses the same construction technique of typical Utah arrays, but significantly reduces micro-motion of the array within the brain tissue. This increases array lifetime and improves overall array performance.
FUNCTIONAL PROFILING OF THE MICROBIOME
Human gut microbiota play an important role in the immune system and de novo synthesis of essential vitamins. Little is known, however, about how gut microbiota influence overall health and disease. Functional Profiling of the Microbiome will aid researchers, physicians, and patients in understanding the role of gut microbiota in human health and wellness. The proposed technology provides a way to quickly and easily identify the enzyme activity present in a sample. Coupled with existing metagenomics, this functional profile will provide insight into the effect of diet and medication use on the gut and the relationships between microbial functionality and disease progression.
FUNCTIONALLY GRADED TANTALUM/NIOBIUM CARBIDE
Hard materials resist wear, but are prone to fracture. Tough materials resist fracture, but are susceptible to wear. Ideally, a material should possess a combination of high hardness and high fracture toughness, but designing such a material has proven difficult. A novel tantalum or niobium carbide (TaC or NbC) results in a composite with superior strength and fracture toughness. The material consists of two-phases, a hard carbide on the outside and a tough carbide in the interior. The carbide substrate can be produced using conventional powder processing methods to fabricate complex shapes and surface-treatment. The proposed material outperforms tungsten carbide in applications that require hardness, fracture toughness, and corrosion resistance.
GAL KINASE INHIBITOR TO TREAT GALACTOSEMIA
Galactosemia is a rare, inherited condition where people cannot metabolize galactose due to mutations in GALT, GALE, and GALK1. The disorder appears in 1 in 40,000 live births and can be fatal if left untreated, but no long-term treatment exists. Although removal of galactose from the diet can prevent death, galactosemia patients still experience intellectual and speech deficits, motor function loss, ataxia, and infertility due to galactose accumulation.
Accumulation of Gal1-p results in a unique form of endoplasmic reticulum stress in fibroblasts of patients with Galactosemia. A small molecule GALK inhibitor can alleviate symptoms of Galactosemia by reducing accumulation of human galactose. GALK inhibitor leads have been identified for testing in animal models. Patient cell lines, crystal structure data, and animal models for Galactosemia are available for rapid development of an IND enabling candidate.
GAS CHROMATOGRAPHY DETECTION SYSTEM
Gas chromatography (GC) systems detect a wide range of gas species. Yet, current GC systems are limited by short channel lengths that inhibit successful sample separation.
University of Utah researchers have developed a gas chromatography system that increases channel length without any increase in overall system size. In effect, less pressure is required to run samples through the longer channels, enabling micro-scale separation. The system’s small size reduces overall energy consumption, package size, and dead volume while increasing separation capacity.
GATE: A SUPERIOR PSYCHIATRIC CONSULT SOLUTION
Psychiatric specialists consulting on a case rarely have sufficient time to
gather input from the primary care physician, patient, and patient’s family prior to engaging. GATE facilitates efficient, structured, and patient- focused communication between primary care providers and specialists, by providing a convenient web-based means for gathering input from the patient and their family. Each patient/family uses a unique log-in to GATE to access the brief assessment that will be provided to the psychiatrist. The consultation system includes a web-based evaluation tool that collects information from families about a patient and then presents that de- identified information to the specialist. The psychiatrist can then review provided information and use GATE to provide the primary care physician with a recommendation.
GENE THERAPY FOR RETINOPATHY OF PREMATURITY
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide. It is becoming more common as emerging countries develop technology to save preterm infants, but lack resources to provide optimal care. In the United States, 14 percent of childhood blindness is attributed to ROP, while in some developing nations estimates surpass 20 percent. Treatments of severe ROP include 1) laser ablation of peripheral avascular retina, which destroys developing retina; or 2) intravitreal anti- VEGF agents, which can lead to persistent avascular retina and even blindness.
The University of Utah is developing a gene therapy based novel approach by targeting STAT3, that unlike anti-VEGF treatment, will not interfere with physiologic retinal vascular development. This approach would stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye, prevent retinal detachment, and preserve vision.
GENETIC DATABASE WEBSITE
The most common method of identifying de novo mutations involves searching research databases, such as PubMed, for specific genes. With almost 15,000 articles related to de novo mutations, identifying particular genes and their associated diseases is time consuming.
The Genetic Database Website provides access to curated information regarding all de novo mutations observed and reported in scientific literature. Using the database, researchers can check whether a de novo mutation in a gene or a more specific locus has been reported previously. Those investigating rare diseases will be able to eliminate some findings quickly as non-causally related if that mutation is observed across other, more common diseases in the database.
GERMWATCH: MOBILE APPLICATION TO HELP PHYSICIANS TRACK AND TREAT INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hospitals rely on internal systems to monitor the incidence of infectious diseases and antibiotic susceptibilities. These monitoring systems fail to track and compile information across multiple organizations, which leaves significant gaps in disease reporting.
GermWatch collects and disseminates disease trends for a given geographic area to better inform clinicians, healthcare facilities, and patients of current risks. The system builds a disease profile that provides incidence levels, disease forecasting, and treatment information. This information can be accessed in real-time using the GermWatch website and mobile application, or can be disseminated via email. GermWatch helps providers recognize common diseases, while increasing diagnostic accuracy and treatment efficacy.
GLASS PHASE PLATE FOR HIGH PRECISION WAVELENGTH EXTRACTION
Traditional localization microscopy uses photo-chemical blinking or switching of fluorescent molecular tags to generate super-resolution (SR) images. Obtaining multi-color images, however, requires filters, which limits the number of colors of fluorescence that can be used at one time.
The etched glass phase plate modifies the point-spread function to have a recognizable shape at each wavelength. Different spectral signals can then be measured without using filters or polarized spatial light modulators. The spectral information may also be rendered in conjunction with an SR image. The phase plate can be tailored to individual imaging needs by adding thin films to affect the slope of the dispersion curve. This may provide increased sensitivity to a desired range of wavelengths. The phase plate can be easily inserted into the Fourier plane of an existing microscope or imaging system.
Endometrial cancer (EC) is the most common gynecological malignancy in the United States, with over 49,000 new cases each year. Current animal tumors have insufficient structural architecture and tumor heterogenity and lack of effective drugs hinders treatment of EC. This complicates tests performed to predict patient response to certain treatments.
A novel model for the development of highly personalized gynecological tumors has been created. Orthotopic implantation of tumors derived from patients with gynecological malignancies result in mouse models that simulate human oncogenesis over multiple generations. The model also provides an excellent model for translational studies.
HEART RATE REGULATION APP
The majority of heart rate regulation apps require manual adjustment of desired heart rates, leading to over- and under-exertion.
University of Utah researchers have created an application and wearable for automatic, personalized, high accuracy heart rate regulation. The user inputs their desired heart rate plan, and a wearable heart rate sensor provides real-time bio-feedback to influence audible cues produced by the application. This adaptive audible signal gives the runner a live, calculated cadence by which to adjust their pace.
HIGH ASPECT RATIO ELECTRODE ARRAY MOLD
Three-dimensional microfabrication may one day enable less expensive and more expedient production of electrode arrays for use as neuroprosthetics and neural research tools. However, conventional 3D microfabrication techniques cannot yet produce high aspect ratio patterns or consistent results.
Researchers at the University of Utah have created a novel technique for the 3D microfabrication of electrode arrays. This method uses 3D lithography to construct a mold for electrode arrays. A layer of electrode array substrate is deposited onto the electrode array, using pre-existing arrays, and is then dissolved under the mold. The resulting mold enables consistent, inexpensive electrode array production.
HIGH EFFICIENCY PEROVSKITE SOLAR CELLS
Perovskite solar cells are fabricated from low-cost, earth abundant materials and can be processed over large areas with low energy methods. In the last ten years, efficiencies of these perovskite-based solar cells have shown an unprecedented increase from 3 percent to over 22 percent, making them competitive with mature thin film solar cell technologies. Current perovskite fabrication techniques, however, fail to monitor and regulate nucleation and crystal growth kinetics. This inability to regulate crystallization prevents the commercial development of high-quality and high-efficiency perovskite thin films.
Researchers at the University of Utah have developed a method for thermally inducing recrystallization of perovskite thin films to create superior solar cell devices. Using an amine gas atmosphere technique, perovskite is recrystallized from a liquid intermediate. This technique provides enhanced control of crystallization, thereby improving thin film quality. The resulting thin films exhibit an increase in grain size and crystallinity of up to two orders of magnitude over the state-of-the-art fabrication techniques. When implemented into solar cell devices, this increases the overall performance and stability due to reduction of detrimental grain boundaries.
HIGH-TEMPERATURE ELECTROCHEMICAL-SENSING ELECTRODE
Voltammetry offers a technique to measure the concentration of ions in high-temperature molten salts, which are used in nuclear fuel and the recycling of rare-earth metals. Accurate high-temperature electrochemical measurements, however, are difficult to obtain due to interactions between the electrode and other elements as well as difficulty determining the surface area of the working electrode.
A newly developed fused glass electrode contains a fixed area metal rod. This enables accurate determination of area-dependent electrochemical measurements such as cyclic voltammetry. This fixes the surface area of the interface between the electrode and the electrolyte to eliminate uncertainty regarding the surface area. The electrode can also detect impurities, monitor ions of interest, and provide feedback for process control and optimization in high-temperature molten salts.
HISTO!: A PATHOLOGY TRAINING APP FOR MEDICAL STUDENTS
Histology, the study of microscopic anatomy, is a cornerstone of basic medical curricula and a common first-year course. Medical and dental histology students often use outdated studying resources with grainy images and minimal detail.
Histo!, an interactive human histology app, offers instruction in biochemistry, physiology, and pathology. It contains 440 photomicrographs that illustrate 1,964 identifications, each with a detailed description. Approximately two-thirds of the identifications involve naming structures, while the rest focus on functions, diseases, and molecular components. The app includes two modes for self-testing mastery.
HRQOL-IDD-16: HEALTH-RELATED QUALITY OF LIFE SCALE FOR PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES
Tracking health-related quality of life (HRQOL) helps identify health disparities, evaluate progress on achieving health goals, and informs public policy. Existing surveys are inaccessible for certain members of the target population and too lengthy for practical health surveillance.
HRQOL-IDD-16 is a theory-based, self-administered scale designed to be accessible to individuals with mild to moderate intellectual or developmental disabilities. HRQOL-IDD-16 features 16 items across 4 quality of life domains. This scale is a self-assessment—not proxy completed. This feature increases data accuracy to better inform program decision-making. While currently in a paper and pencil format, the scale could be transferred to an app or web platform.
HYDROGEL AND COACERVATE BASED ADHESIVES
Adhesives and sealants are ubiquitous in numerous industries, including automotive, aerospace, packaging, and construction. Many adhesives and sealants, however, are toxic, which results in harmful effects on health and the environment. Two new adhesives formed without toxic byproducts have been developed. The first is a complex coacervate based adhesive formed by mixing oppositely charged polyelectrolytes (PEs). The PEs can rapidly change forms as solution conditions alter, allowing the adhesive to be injected as a liquid and then coagulate into a solid hydrogel adhesive as pH or salt concentrations adjust. Gelation would keep the material in place to fill voids and the material could be either biodegradable or non- biodegradable depending on the application. Initially designed for physiological conditions, the coacervate offers potential application in depots, fillers, and adhesives. The second adhesive is a viscoelastic hydrogel with an adhesive surface comprised of cross-linked acrylic polymers. The new adhesive exhibits resilience and high stiffness at low strains but low resilience and high flexibility at high strains. Heat is released as covalent bonds break and the hydrogel recovers its original stiffness as strain is alleviated, preventing failure. The adhesive layer adheres to wet and submerged substrates, enabling underwater use.
IMMUNO-CELL THERAPY FOR BLOOD DISORDERS WITH NOVEL TARGETS
Multiple Myeloma (MM) is an incurable plasma cell malignancy with significant morbidity and mortality. While proteasome inhibitors and immunomodulatory agents have improved treatment outcomes, most patients eventually relapse.
The Cancer Immunotherapy program at Huntsman Cancer Institute has established a comprehensive portfolio of novel immuno-oncology therapeutic candidates for hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. The proprietary biologics discovery platform includes a fully human antibody phage display library with a diversity of greater than 1010 clones. A number of monoclonal antibodies and CAR T cells against surface antigens, blocking antibodies against cytokines, and immune checkpoints are being advanced. The lead immunotherapy candidate is a monoclonal antibody and CAR T cell therapy targeting a novel surface receptor CD229. CD229 is selectively expressed on MM chemotherapy resistant precursor cells making it attractive for clinical development as a potential cure for MM. Extended applications include B-cell malignancies.
IMPROVEMENT IN DETECTION SENSITIVITY OF RARE DISEASE VARIANTS FOR LIQUID BIOPSY TESTING
Circulating tumor DNA and tumor-derived exosomes are becoming popular as non-invasive cancer diagnostic tools, termed “liquid” biopsy. Standard next-generation sequencing (NGS) DNA processing approaches enable broad identification of both known and unknown tumor-associated variants, including single nucleotide variants. However, even with the highest fidelity sequencing platforms, errors introduced at >0.1% limit identification of disease associated variants that occur at <1% frequency. This increases the risk of over-representation of false variants and diminishes the clinical relevance of such tests.
University of Utah researchers have developed a droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) approach for enhancing detection sensitivity. This ddPCR approach has the following proprietary intervening steps to enrich circulating tumor DNA: (1) high-throughput automated gel extraction to isolate subfractions of the mononucleosomal peak, and (2) specific adapter sequences or molecular identifiers that allow grouping of PCR duplicates into “family sizes.”
INHIBITION OF ANGIOGENESIS AND LYMPHANGIOGENESIS USING TARGETED MORPHOLINOS
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a signal protein produced by cells that stimulates lymphangiogenesis and angiogenesis. When VEGF is overexpressed, it can contribute to various disease conditions, such as cancer and age-related macular degeneration.
The proposed technology modifies the polyadenylation mechanism, serving as a new drug for cancer and neovascularization disorders. It presents a new strategy for inhibition of angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis through manipulation of VEGFR isoform expression. The VEGFR1 and VEGFR2 genes produce both membrane-bound and soluble isoforms, which have different effects on these processes. The membrane bound isoforms promote angiogenesis, while the soluble isoforms suppress lymphangiogenesis.
INHIBITION OF HERPES VIRUS REPLICATION
Available antiherpesvirus drugs target viral DNA polymerases. These drugs are usually highly effective, although toxicity and development of resistance limit their use. Derivatives of Spironolactone, an existing drug used to treat congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, and kidney problems, inhibit replication of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). These derivatives exhibit decreased anti-mineralocorticoid activity and increased antiviral activity. The proposed therapeutic degrades cellular transcription factors related to virus production, lytic replication and gene expression. Use of this therapeutic has the potential to prevent KSHV and treat infectious mononucleosis, CMV, and HSV infections.
INTELLIGENT HYDRATION SYSTEM
Endurance activities, such as mountain biking, running, hiking, and military operations require proper and continuous hydration. Hydration systems traditionally used for outdoor activities require manual monitoring of water levels, either by gauging a pouch’s weight change, inspecting the bladder, or using commercially available flowmeters. Lack of accurate information can lead to underestimation of remaining water and potentially dangerous situations.
The Intelligent Hydration System is a fluid level sensor that enables easy-to-use bladder monitoring and can be integrated with most commercial hydration backpacks. The technology consists of two sensors connected to a small circuit that can be attached to either side of any pre-existing reservoir. A light-emitting diode display communicates the bladder’s fluid level to the user. The kit provides an accurate reading of the fluid content, irrespective of shaking and movement.
JOINT FUSION/LIMB GROWTH KEEL PLATE
Almost 200,000 orthopedic procedures involving metal bone plates are performed annually in the United States. These bone plates facilitate healing in fractured bones by holding the bone in place. Bone plates, however, are often oversized, which causes irritation in the surrounding soft tissue and hinders bone growth.
A new orthopedic bone plate, made of stainless steel or titanium, has been developed for securing bones during joint fusion procedures. This plate is designed for procedures with limited soft tissue coverage and avoids tissue damage caused by traditional plates. The internal side of the plate includes a T-shaped cross-sectional keel that has a thin edge for enhanced integration in the bone. The plate can withstand high levels of torsion and 3-point bends, increasing its applicability in small joint procedures. The keel plate can also be used to correct limb deformities in children.
KIRKHAM BIRTHING HARNESS
Studies indicate that giving birth in the squatting position provides many benefits, such as shorter labor, reduced incidence of Cesarean section, and decreased need for forceps, or vacuum deliveries. Most women, however, do not have the upper leg strength required to stay in a squatting position throughout the second stage of labor (pushing), which can last from 20 minutes to 2 hours.
The Kirkham Birthing Harness supports women in a squatting position without adding pressure or strain on their arms and legs. The birthing harness comprises thigh, rear torso, and body straps that support the patient. The harness itself is supported by a patient lift or comparable support systems, such as the Hoyer Lift, thus allowing the mother to maintain the squatting position for extended periods without muscle exhaustion.
LARGE DATABASE QUERY OPTIMIZATION
Large local database queries are critical and often time-consuming. In relational databases, for example, joins are the most costly operations, but provide the most valuable information.
A software suite has been developed that speeds database queries by an order-of-magnitude. The suite includes software designed for local database crawling that enables users to deploy a Google-esque query engine over their data almost instantaneously. In addition, STORM (spatio-temporal online reasoning and management) software allows for online analytics of multi-dimensional data, incorporating machine learning into database query analysis. The final software piece speeds join queries in relational databases, facilitating interactive data analytics at user-friendly speeds.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, injuries to the back resulted in 19.6 percent of work nonattendance cases related to injury in 2012. Many workers, even after recuperation, encounter risk of further injury by repeating poor lifting practices.
Lifting Coach is a sensor system designed to mitigate the risk of on-the-job back injury. This system includes insole sensor hardware and accelerometers that integrate with a mobile application for real-time feedback. The app audibly warns users when they use a high-risk posture or operate beyond their load capacity. It also advises users to take breaks or make postural changes. Lifting Coach helps employers manage operations and adjust work practices by recording workers’ risk estimation results for each shift and generating daily reports that indicate worker fatigue and exertion.
LINGUISTIC SYMPTOM TRAINING APP
Speech pathology training includes classroom and clinical experience, but students receive little real world experience prior to graduation, which is problematic because most patients do not speak like textbook examples.
The Linguistic Symptom Training App serves as a study tool for undergraduate and graduate speech language pathology students. The app uses self-paced training modules to help students identify and categorize linguistic symptoms from a variety of pediatric language disorders. Users access a series of sentences that mirror real speech patterns and sentence structures, then are asked to make quick judgements about whether or not each sentence contains symptoms for a specific disorder. The app could also be used to meet continuing education requirements for certified speech language pathology (SLP) clinicians.
LIQUID GLUE BIOPSY: NOVEL METHOD FOR NON-INVASIVE SKIN SAMPLING
Nucleic acid diagnostics help identify and monitor diseases. Traditional methods for the recovery of nucleic acids and proteins from the skin, however, involve the use of a scalpel or other sharp instrument. These sampling methods require local anesthesia, create bleeding wounds, produce scarring and generally necessitate sutures to close the skin. Adhesive tape has also been used to obtain skin samples, but requires repeated applications of tape strips to inflamed lesions. This new technology provides an innovative, simple approach to recover skin samples using liquid adhesives. A novel glue is painted onto the skin and then overlaid with support materials. Removing the glue facilitates harvesting of skin samples with ample material for assay testing. This method provides a one-step, efficient, and non-invasive means for recovering nucleic acids from skin lesions of all sizes.
LIQUID TO SOLID INTRAVASCULAR EMBOLIC
Embolization is a minimally invasive therapy that provides stable and localized occlusion of arterial blood flow (transarterial embolization, TAE) with applications in rapidly growing markets of interventional radiology and cancer treatment. However, transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) treatments have severe shortcomings due to chemotherapeutic toxicity, off-target embolization, and non-degradability.
University of Utah researchers have developed an innovative biopolymer, composed of silk-like elastin proteins that overcomes the above shortcomings by combining the best properties of both liquid and solid embolics for TACE. The SELP embolic polymer is liquid at room temperature permitting localized delivery through smaller diameter catheters that transitions in vivo to a solid providing stable occlusion. This liquid to solid embolic enables pinpoint embolization of tumor-feeding arteries and can also be used to deliver therapeutics.
LIVE ELECTRONIC COMPONENT MONITORING
Reliable and uninterrupted operation of power converters is crucial – especially in industrial processes where failure-free operation is indispensable. Capacitors and switching devices, such as transistors and diodes, are the most likely to fail components in power converters. To ensure failure-free operation, converters are often operated with redundancy and require periodic maintenance and replacement, which is time and cost intensive. Additionally, the functionality and performance of power converters degrade over time. Conventional methods estimate wear by characterizing individual components, but fail to reflect the overall state of the converter.
Live Electronic Component Monitoring provides a real-time, non-invasive method for monitoring the overall state of health of power convertors. Using spread spectrum time domain reflectometry, the method assesses the impedance, resistance, and capacitance of various current paths within the converter. This information is then used to form a converter-specific matrix that predicts the age and reliability power converters. Measurements are implemented while the components are live or functioning within the overall system.
LIVE-CELL ASSAY FOR NEURONAL ACTIVITY
Synaptic assays are used to measure neuronal activity in disease and drug research for neurodevelopmental disorders. Existing assays rely on visualization or electrophysiological analyses, but they provide variable results because they fail to track changes in the same population of neurons over time. These methods are also labor intensive, expensive, and unsuitable for large-scale drug screens.
The live-cell assay facilitates quantitative measurement of neuronal activity. The assay involves infecting cultured neurons with an activity-dependent promoter, and then repeatedly measuring the accumulation of photon-yielding enzymatic activity in the medium. This method provides longitudinal tracking of neuronal activity, while identifying small molecules that regulate synapse development and function. The technology will be used as a drug screen in normal synapse development to narrow the field of drug candidates that affect neuronal activation.
LOW-FREQUENCY ENERGY HARVESTER
Self-powered wearables, such as watches, have existed for approximately 30 years. These wearables generate power using an eccentric rotor that rotates with movement. Certain types of motion facilitate energy generation better than others. However, harvesting energy from low-frequency motion, such as walking, has proven difficult, limiting the applications of low-frequency energy harvesters.
A new eccentric rotor design that includes a well-tuned rotational spring improves the amount of power generated by low-frequency motion up to 300 percent. Electricity is harvested from an optimized array of copper coils and magnets. Potential applications include low-power draw sensors, wearables, and communication systems.
MACHINE LEARNING TO RATE ATAXIC BREATHING SEVERITY
Opioid-induced respiratory depression is traditionally recognized by assessment of respiratory rate, arterial oxygen saturation, end-tidal CO2, and mental status. Although an irregular or ataxic breathing pattern is widely recognized as a manifestation of opioid effects, the presence of ataxic breathing is not routinely monitored or scored. A major obstacle to widespread monitoring for ataxic breathing is the necessity for manual, offline analysis.
University of Utah researchers have developed a machine learning algorithm that enables real-time, quantitative monitoring of patients’ breathing patterns. This algorithm determines the severity of ataxic breathing events and has been verified to classify those events in a manner consistent with manual analysis. Accordingly, the algorithm should enable detection of opioid-induced respiratory depression events and determine their severity.
MAGNET-LESS RING COMBINER AND SWITCHES FOR FULL DUPLEX COMMUNICATION
Conventional communication circuits are unable to send and receive signals simultaneously, which limits communication throughput. Systems involving magnets are similarly restricted to transmission in a single direction, due to the magnetic field generated by magnets.
University of Utah researchers have developed a magnet-less ring combiner that enables full duplex communication, which provides simultaneous transmission and reception of signals. This combiner is configurable with n-number of ports, while maintaining a smaller overall size, reducing manufacturing costs, and enhancing performance. Combiners can be coupled with various switched output port configurations including a SP3T using a 6-way ring combiner.
MAGNETIC STEERING FOR IMPROVED COCHLEAR IMPLANT SURGERY
Implantation of a cochlear implant often causes damage to the cochlear walls, the scala tympani, and other cochlear structures. This damage results in additional hearing loss to cochlear implant recipients, who already have significant hearing loss.
University of Utah researchers have developed a method for implanting a cochlear implant while minimizing the collateral damage of the surgery. To do this, a small magnet is integrated into the tip of the cochlear implant. Another magnet is mounted to an actuator which is placed near the patient’s head. The actuator can be precision-controlled to move the magnet on the cochlear implant in the desired direction. The direction of the movement of the cochlear implant can be easily and precisely changed by rotating the actuator the desired amount. Using a combination of actuator movement and rotation, the cochlear implant is slowly and precisely “pulled” into place without causing damage to surrounding tissues. Once it is placed, the actuator is removed and the implant stays in place.
MAGNETICALLY DRIVEN, MESOSCALE SHUTTLE FOR MEDICAL DEVICE PLACEMENT
Medical device implantation often results in tissue damage due to placement difficulties. Such damage adds risk to implantation procedures and may limit the depth to which devices can be placed, leading to suboptimal device performance.
The proposed invention is a small, soft, flexible shuttle with two embedded dipole magnets. This structure is attached to the device or lead to be implanted and placed in the body, enabling the physician to steer the shuttle through the body by using another magnet placed on the skin. The shuttle is propelled forward in a wavelike motion by the external magnet until it reaches the desired location, with minimal tissue damage.
MEASUREMENT OF TOTAL, FREE, AND AUTOANTIBODY-BOUND BIOMARKERS
The presence or absence of specific biomarkers can be predictive in the diagnosis of various conditions. The majority of diagnostic tests for quantitative measurement of biomarkers use immune-based techniques, which utilize detection antibodies. In individuals with autoimmune disorders, however, patient autoantibodies affect the immunoassay and cause inaccurate results or misdiagnosis.
The proposed method binds antibodies to specific analytes, converting all target analytes in the sample to antibody-bound form. This creates enriched fractions that facilitate more accurate measurement of biomarker concentration. This method has been used for quantification of total thyroglobulin in serum and plasma samples to detect recurrence of thyroid carcinoma. This approach can also be applied to other biomarkers where autoantibodies can adversely affect the assay used to detect the biomarker.
MEDICAL GAS DELIVERY DEVICE
Patients with diseases of the heart and lungs, such as pulmonary hypertension, may not comply with use of a face mask or nasal cannula for delivery of medical gas. Movement can also render medical gas delivery methods ineffective if a patient turns their head away from the gas source.
The proposed medical gas delivery device could be incorporated with a hat, hood, pillow or other garment to provide supplemental oxygen and other gases near the face of patients who struggle with a face mask or nasal cannula. The device permits patients to move without interrupting the flow of medical gas. The initial hoody device delivers medical gas from a source near the waist through a tube that expels the medical gas near the patient’s face. This reduces the chance of air-flow disruption, common with long tubing, and improves patient compliance due to the increased comfort of the delivery device.
MEDICAL HOME PORTAL
Children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN), or those at increased risk for chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional conditions, have increased need for medical and education services. Coordination of care for CYSHCN often involves a large number of people, such as clinicians, care coordinators, family members, home care professionals, and school staff. Inadequate care coordination can lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment, diminished patient and physician satisfaction, increased cost of care, and reduced quality of life. Since CYSHCN receive care from health and non–health professionals working in different settings, care-related data can be fragmented across multiple information systems. As a result, finding the information needed to provide the best care can be daunting.
Medical Home Portal provides high-quality, family-focused, and peer-authored information for families and physicians. The portal offers clinical content for nearly 50 rare chronic conditions and provides access to community resources to improve quality of care and outcomes for CYSHCN. It incorporates clinical guidelines, alerts, recommendations for screening and links to local services.
METHOD TO GENERATE HUMAN CORTICAL ORGANOIDS
Current methods differentiate cerebral cortex organoids from stem cells resulting in a high heterogeneity of cells that yields a high variability in results.
A University of Utah researcher has developed a method for generating three-dimensional cortical organoids from single induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neural rosettes in vitro. Single-rosette-derived cortical organoids grow large in suspension culture, reaching 4-5 mm in diameter by 4 months while maintaining a single internal lumen. They consist of different types of neuronal cells, including cortical neural progenitors, deep and superficial cortical excitatory neurons, inhibitory neurons, and astrocytes, organized around the lumen. Patch-clamp electrophysiology shows that many neurons in slices from single-rosette-derived cortical organoids fire repetitive action potentials, receive excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs, exhibit typical pyramidal-like morphologies, and develop dendritic spines. These organoids are useful for defining the organization and functions of human neurons in healthy and diseased developing cortical networks and have potential applications in regenerative medicine and transplantation such as treating certain forms of drug-resistant epilepsy.
METHOD TO INCREASE LONGEVITY & EFFICACY IN NEURAL ARRAYS
Physicians increasingly use neural arrays as therapeutic treatment for
neurological disorders despite their shortcomings. Neural arrays are
limited by functional efficiency and longevity concerns, cause glial scar
tissue to develop and encapsulate the implant, which inhibits electrical
signal stimulation, and degrade over time due to the growing impedance
barrier that requires increased charge flow to stimulate an action
Researchers at the University of Utah have developed an electrode with a
platinum coating that addresses many of these shortcomings. The
electrode has a highly biocompatible, pseudoporous electrode-tissue
interface and a modified texture that increases its real surface area. The
invention requires less electrical signal to successfully stimulate neuron
action potentials, which decreases risk to surrounding neural tissue and
increases longevity of the array. In vitro testing indicated the modified
texture also reduced neural scar tissue surrounding the array.
METHODS TO TREAT DRY MOUTH ASSOCIATED WITH SJOGREN’S SYNDROME
Sjogren’s Syndrome is a condition that causes immune cell infiltration into the salivary and lacrimal glands, leading to dry mouth and dry eyes. No cure exists and treatments only somewhat alleviate symptoms.
Two novel methods for treating, and potentially curing, Sjogren’s are under development. The first uses Resolvin D1 to improve salivary gland epithelial integrity in cytokine-damaged cells through localized or systemic delivery into glands to treat dry mouth and dry eye. The second uses a fibrin-based hydrogel to regenerate salivary glands. The hydrogel is combined with functional groups, which are chemically conjugated to fluorescent FH to form new salivary tissue and eliminate dry mouth.
MeVal: PERSONAL HEALTH ASSESSMENT DATA COLLECTION TOOL
Online module combining vetted patient-reported outcomes assessment tools with data analytics to deliver consistent and reliable data for use in clinical, financial, and research applications. Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) are the leading indicator of health care service quality. Collecting patient data, however, often requires manually aggregating and calculating outcomes. Complexity and time constraints limit the use of PROs in many healthcare systems.
MeVal allows patients to report information electronically, which is then stored within their electronic medical record (EMR). MeVal combines the best PRO data assessment tools with business intelligence reporting infrastructure. This system facilitates an integrated and seamless capture and visualization of PROs, and reveals data trends for clinical, financial, and research purposes. The module also allows clinicians to access patient assessments in real- time for immediate incorporation into treatment plans.
MICRO-ELECTROMECHANICAL SENSING SYSTEMS & PROCESSORS
Sensors based on micro-mechanical devices typically have small stand-by power consumption, which makes them ideal for use in the Internet of Things, where a multitude of sensors are required to monitor the status of every system. These sensors continue to decrease in size, use less energy, and cost less.
The Micro-electromechanical Sensing Systems & Processors sense low magnetic and electric fields, as well as small vibrations. The devices can also perform amplification, logical operations, spectral analysis, rectification, and detection of radiofrequency signals using less than 10 nW of power. Due to their low power usage and high sensitivity, these sensors are well-suited for remote sensing and implantable medical device applications.
MICRO-MOLDED NEURAL ARRAYS
Physicians view electrode arrays as cutting edge treatment and therapy for neurological disorders. However, customization requirements, high costs, and technological deficiencies represent research and development challenges that must be overcome for mass adoption of electrode arrays.
Researchers at the University of Utah have created a platform technology that facilitates fabrication of micro-molded, customizable neural arrays. This platform allows users to customize substrate material, electrode material, and 2D or 3D configuration. The array is ten created using a micro assembly process for low-profile integration of single and multi-shaft probes that do not impinge on overlying structures, such as the skull. This technology is especially well-suited for research use because researchers can customize the electrode arrays, allowing for cost-effective, repeatable array design. Micro-molded neural arrays also have applications in drug delivery, optogenetics, and neuroprosthetics.
MICRO-PLASMA FIELD EFFECT TRANSISTORS
Field effect transistors (FETs) are commonly used in circuit boards to amplify or switch electronic signals. Metal-oxide-semiconductor FETs (MOSFETs) are the most common field effect transistor and use electrons to carry currents. However, MOSFETs are highly susceptible to damage through static electricity and fail to work at high temperatures.
University researchers have developed a metal-oxide plasma field effect transistor (MOPFET) that can operate at high temperatures and in ionizing radiation. This MOPFET device utilizes ionized gases as charge carriers, which are unaffected by ionizing radiation and have increased operation efficiency in such conditions. As a result, MOPFETs can be used in nuclear power stations, outer space, engines, and other hightemperature/ ionizing radiation applications.
MICROBIOTA TREATMENT OF OBESITY & TYPE-2 DIABETES
There are growing numbers of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic disorders, but few effective treatments exist.
A University of Utah researcher has identified a specific class of bacteria from the gut that prevents mice from becoming obese. These microbes may similarly control weight in people. The beneficial bacteria, called Clostridia, are part of the gut microbiome. Healthy mice have plenty of Clostridia, but those with an impaired immune system lose these microbes from their gut as they age. Even when fed a healthy diet, the mice inevitably become obese. Administering the Clostridia bacteria to the animals allowed them to stay slim. One or more molecules produced by Clostridia prevented the gut from absorbing fat. These molecules will be isolated and should enable the development of therapeutics for obesity and type-2 diabetes.
MICROFLUIDIC CHIP FOR EXTREME PCR
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is an inexpensive and robust technique for amplifying specific segments of DNA for gene analysis, DNA sequencing, DNA profiling, and diagnostic tests. The speed at which PCR can be performed depends on the time required to cycle through temperature dependent steps.
The microfluidic chip for extreme PCR allows for a 1 to 2 second PCR cycle. The chip has one uniform channel through which a PCR mix flows, with a single port acting as both an inlet and outlet. A thermal gradient is introduced across the chip, where one end is at the melting temperature of a target and the other is at the annealing temperature of DNA. The target is amplified after two cycles through the chip and identified on a high resolution melting instrument in roughly one minute. This chip facilitates extreme PCR that is cheap, easy to manufacture, and simple to use.
MICROTEXTURING OF PROSTHETIC KNEE AND HIP JOINTS TO IMPROVE LONGEVITY
More than 200,000 total hip replacement (THR) surgeries are performed in the United States each year. THR surgery is needed when the articular cartilage cushioning of the joint deteriorates, causing pain and disability. Over time, polyethylene wear particles absorb into the tissue around the prosthetic joint, which may cause inflammation, mechanical instability, or dislocation of the prosthetic joint components. As a result, patients seek revision THR surgery or live in discomfort.
A new microtexturing technology places microscale texture features or “dimples” on the CoCrMo bearing surface of the prosthetic joint. The microtexture features form microhydrodynamic bearings that reduce friction and polyethylene wear.
MINIMUM QUANTITY LUBRICATION METALWORKING SYSTEM
Computer numerical control (CNC) processes are under scrutiny from environmental and regulatory agencies due to excessive use of cutting fluids and subsequent disposal methods. Currently, there is no way to control the amount of cutting fluid used by CNC machines, resulting in wasted fluids and lost money.
Researchers at the University of Utah have developed a system to administer the necessary amount of cutting fluid for the programmed task. This system communicates with the CNC machine in real time, allowing for seamless fluid administration during CNC processing.
MISTREAM: LIVE CROWD STREAMING
Live-streaming is growing in popularity with the rise of applications like Facebook Live, YouTube, Meerkat and Periscope. Yet, live-streaming has limitations: video streaming often requires large amounts of bandwidth, resulting in lower quality video/audio and loss of signal.
mIStream splits streaming cellular data to numerous forwarder cells which then transmit the data via multiple cellular paths. A gatherer then combines the multiple streams of data to seamlessly recompile the original stream. This creates a more robust signal network, allowing high-quality, higher-bandwidth streaming despite individual cellular data limitations and fluctuations. Having forwarder nodes on multiple cellular networks reduces dead zones and improves the overall throughput.
MODIFIED NASAL CANNULA FOR SEAMLESS PRE-OXYGENATION TRANSITION
Anesthesiologists pre-oxygenate patients using an oxygen mask prior to intubation. Once the oxygen mask is removed, this supply of oxygen is normally sufficient for a healthy adult patient to be intubated within three minutes. Failure to intubate within this timeframe leads to hypoxia, brain injury, or death. The current industry standard is to use a bag valve mask (BVM) during pre-oxygenation. After pre-oxygenation, the BVM is removed for intubation to occur. Research has demonstrated use of a nasal cannula prior to and after the BVM increases the safe apneic window. Removing and replacing the nasal cannula for the BVM, however, disrupts the workflow.
The proposed technology modifies a traditional nasal cannula by replacing the rigid tubing with collapsible tubing, allowing the nasal cannula to stay in place during pre-oxygenation and ventilation. This simplifies workflow and provides anesthesiologists with more time to intubate patients.
MODULAR OSSEOINTEGRATED, POROUS-COATED PROSTHETIC ABUTMENT SYSTEM
Percutaneous fixation implants anchor a prosthesis to a selected bone, which increases mobility, but can cause infection, skin regression, and early implant failure. Such complications require surgery to replace the implant and involve long recovery periods that reduce the quality of life for amputees.
The Modular Osseointegrated, Porous-coated Prosthetic Abutment System (MOPPAS) alleviates complications associated with existing fixation systems through the use of removable modular components. Interlocking sleeves and an end cap fasten MOPPAS components together. Portions of the implant can be removed and replaced individually, which increases the longevity of implants systems and reduces more complicated, follow-on surgeries necessary to replace failed implants.
MOISTURE SENSOR FOR SOIL MONITORING
Water is one of the most valuable resources on the planet, but climate change and population growth have put a strain of the available freshwater supply. The National Integrated Drought Information System reports that 25 percent of land and more than 65 million people in the United States are affected by drought. Despite campaigns and regulations used to conserve water, up to 60 percent of irrigation water is wasted.
A novel moisture sensor facilitates water conservation and smart crop management by monitoring soil conditions. The Moisture & Pressure Sensor consists of a hydrogel coupled with a piezoresistive sensor that measures moisture, pH, and electrolyte levels. The degree of swelling/deswelling in the hydrogel is indicative of soil conditions to provide real time data about water needs. The sensor then communicates with a central unit that controls the irrigation system to ensure automatic, appropriate watering of crops, flowers, and grass.
MOLECULAR FLUORESCENSE SENSOR FOR MERCURY DETECTION
Mercury pollution causes hazardous environmental and health issues, such as heart, kidney, stomach, and gene damage. The EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act set maximum mercury contaminant levels at 2 ppb. Most mercury detection sensors are colorimetric and fail to quantify mercury levels. Additionally, interference from coexisting metal ions often result in false positives.
University of Utah researchers have invented a low cost, point-of-use optical sensor for mercury detection and quantification in water. The new sensor exhibits sensitive and selective detection of mercury directly in aqueous solutions through fluorescence quenching. The fluorescent molecule dims in the presence of mercury to enable detection at low levels. Companion software that uses optical detection of the fluorescing molecule quantifies the mercury concentration and enables rapid, portable mercury detection. The sensor exhibits high stability and offers superior detection performance compared to traditional molecular fluorescence sensors.
MONOLITHIC SPINTRONIC OLED MAGNETOMETER
Magnetometers are used for a variety of sensor applications and various magnetometer concepts, each with different advantages and disadvantages. Currently available, low-cost room temperature magnetometers, however, must be calibrated for any environmental conditions under which they are operated. Most magnetometers are calibrated to account for a small range of normal operating conditions (e.g. a temperature range) only.
This monolithic organic thin-film semiconductor magnetometer eliminates the need for calibration. A dielectric thin-film provides electrical and thermal insulation between a thin-film wire, capable of inducing an AC magnetic field, and a layer stack in which spin-dependent electronic transition rates govern a measurable current. Magnetic resonance of the frequency of the AC field and the Larmor frequency of charge carriers in the thin-film device change the spin-dependent transition rates and thus, the electric current. Small electric current changes, indicative of magnetic resonance, reveal the magnetic field applied to the device.
MULTICOMPONENT NANOCOMPOSITE ELECTROTHERMAL COATING
Electrothermal coatings provide an alternative to metal-wire resistor heating cables in many heating applications. Many coatings, however, use metal fillers that have low conductivity, low sticking coefficients, and short lifetimes, which limits their application to certain surfaces.
A new electrothermal coating with multi-component nanocomposites does not require the use of metal particles. The coating is made using low-dimensional carbon nanostructures in polymer solvents for a higher bonding affinity and increased conductivity. The coating binds to a wider variety of surfaces and the conductivity of the material can be adjusted based on the application by varying nanocomposite composition and concentration. This technology requires less input energy to achieve the same output as metal-wire resistor heating cables and has potential use in home, automotive, military, and industrial applications.
MULTISEQUENCE CAPTURE BEAD CONSTRUCTION
Existing high-throughput, fluidics-based RNA sequencing systems are incompatible with short read length platforms and can only capture a single sequence. Additionally, variable regions of T-cell receptor pairs are separated during purification, and existing technology only allows capture of a single sequence making it difficult to accurately determine the existence and relative concentrations of receptor chains.
Bi-functional mRNA capture beads, synthesized using reversible oligonucleotide chain-blocking, isolate and amplify two different mRNA sequences while maintaining the pairing information for these sequences. The bead has a proprietary base that blocks chain elongation in order to capture and read the complete variable region of each chain. The multiple reads per bead will provide statistical conformation that the sequence is correct. Initial tests have demonstrated that two different capture sequences can be built onto a single bead, enabling specific capture and amplification of multiple different mRNA species.
MYC-DRIVEN DIAGNOSTIC FOR SMALL CELL LUNG CANCER
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for almost 30,000 deaths each year in the United States, with a two-year survival rate of less than six percent. Almost 40 percent of SCLC patients develop resistance to platinum-based chemotherapy, the current first-line treatment. Studies indicate that MYC amplification is associated with treatment resistance and poor outcomes, but little was known regarding how MYC impacts SCLC. Researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah have discovered that roughly 20 percent of SCLC patients develop a variant form of the disease, characterized by certain MYC-related biomarkers. The proposed technology detects variant SCLC by identifying the concentration of specific biomarkers in a patient. The technology can also be used to predict patient response to chemotherapy to help guide clinician decisions and improve patient outcomes.
Implantable medical devices, such as pacemakers and cochlear implants, require wireless communication capabilities. These wireless data transmission systems rely on integrated miniature antennas to transmit patient data and monitor device health. Performance of traditional antennas is limited by size constraints, incompatibility with the body, and muffled signals.
The nanocomposite-based implantable antenna combines high conductivity and low stiffness, and allows wireless implantable medical devices to communicate externally without biocompatibility or stability issues. An additional external tattoo or textile antenna could also be placed on the fat layer of the skin to allow deeper placement of implantable devices in the body, while reducing radiative absorption and transmission loss. Using the combined system of implantable and external antennas improves overall implant communication.
NEARLY TRANSPARENT IMAGING SYSTEM
Traditional imaging methods, which are relatively costly and complex, rely on a lens to focus light onto a sensor that records photons.
The proposed invention uses an image recording device placed at the edges of a transparent layer to accurately reproduce an image. A small fraction of the light from the outside scene scatters off imperfections in the transparent layer to reach the image-recording device. The full scene is reproduced computationally from the point sources. The image is captured without a lens and without a direct line of sight to the scene. While the system could be used to capture any image, it is applicable specifically to biometrics and automotive machine vision.
NEW PREDICTOR OF BLOOD PRESSURE RESPONSE DURING FAST VENTRICULAR ARRHYTHMIAS
Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) detect ventricular arrhythmias and deliver a jolt of electricity to restore normal heart rhythm. The strength of required electric shocks and the inability to predict when future shocks will occur cause pain and anxiety for many patients. Anti-tachycardia pacing (ATP) restores normal heart rhythm without electric shocks, but its use is limited due to concerns that ATP may not terminate severe arrhythmias. The proposed technology utilizes a novel algorithm in conjunction with an ICD to determine whether ATP or electric shock is required to restore normal heart function. The algorithm uses data already collected and stored by the ICD to predict blood pressure response during an arrhythmia by identifying the cycle length and depolarization rate of the sinoatrial node. With this software, clinicians can utilize ATP more effectively and eliminate unnecessary electric shocks.
NEXT GENERATION MULTI-PAYLOAD ANTIBODY DRUG CONJUGATE
ADCs are empowered antibodies designed to harness the targeting ability of monoclonal antibodies by linking them to cell-killing agents to overcome toxicity issues. One of the major limitations of ADCs is having an appropriate linker.
The proposed technology improves the linker, making it possible to create an ADC that possesses high specificity and the advantages of macromolecular therapeutics. The technology involves a controlled living polymerization technique that results in a well-defined HPMA polymer-drug conjugate, followed by specific attachment to an antibody to generate a homogenous ADC with an adjustable amount of payload. Lead ADC, RTX-P-EPI (Rituximab conjugated to Epirubicin) has been well characterized for high linker stability, homogenous ADC mixture, and ADC internalization.
NON-NUCLEATED CELLS FOR DRUG DELIVERY
Platelets are anucleated cells that play vital roles in clotting and maintaining internal body functions. Platelet disorders require time-consuming and resource-intensive transfusions. Donated platelets have a shelf-life of just five days and require HIV and blood-borne disease testing.
Synthetic biology has been used to create engineered megakaryocyte (MK) cells that differentiate into platelets in vitro. This creates a new source of platelets independent of donors to treat diseases associated with low platelet counts. This platform biotechnology/bioengineering technology has additional applications in systemic and targeted cell therapy. Of note, the MK cells are capable of being engineered to produce the non-nucleated platelets carrying therapeutic agents as well as to express specific receptors enabling targeted delivery.
NON-PLANAR DIRECT-WRITE NANOLITHOGRAPHY
Available electrospinning technologies deposit haphazard fiber patterns. This deposition process significantly limits the pattern resolution and prohibits alignment between multiple layers.
University of Utah researchers have developed a method of direct-writing nanofibers and nanoparticles that enables the production of high-resolution, precise patterns. This technology is not only less expensive than current deposition technologies, but also enables direct-writing onto non-planar, or curved, surfaces.
NOVEL DELIVERY DEVICE FOR FRAGILE MEDICAL IMPLANTS
Surgical trocars are the most commonly used delivery method for implanting fragile devices in the body. These trocars create pathways in human tissue to help implant small medical devices, but can damage fragile implantable devices in the process. The proposed technology is a micro- and nanotechnology medical device carrier that enables trocars and other delivery devices to deliver fragile objects to a targeted area, safely and securely. The device is bullet shaped and hollow with holes on one side to allow for suturing to hold the implant in place. The tip of the device has a bulb for hemostats to grab and help guide delivery and extraction of the carrier. The bullet shape of the device helps reduce drag while moving through body tissue, and provides continuous protection for the fragile implant during surgery.
NOVEL QUANTITATIVE, ARRAY-BASED METHYLATION ANALYSIS
DNA methylation often reflects epigenetic changes that affect oncogenesis and normal cell functions. Current methods for assessing DNA methylation, however, are labor intensive, technically complicated, and often ambiguous.
A novel microarray-based technique for the quantification of DNA methylation has been developed. The microarray uses methyl binding domain proteins to recognize CpGs with high specificity both in vivo and in vitro. The two step process hybridizes the DNA to an array of oligonucleotide probes and then exposes the DNA to fluorescently labeled methyl binding proteins. Analysis of the binding kinetics provides information of the methylation level at each addressable spot with increased specificity. This technique dramatically simplifies quantification of methylated DNA, increases accuracy, and avoids limitations associated with prior methods.
NOVEL SUBSTRATE FOR BLOOD-BASED METHYLATED DNA DIAGNOSTIC KITS
Use of blood-based methylated DNA biomarkers for screening of cancer and other diseases is growing. For example, screening for Septin 9 (SEPT9) methylated DNA in blood plasma facilitates the detection of colorectal cancer, since specific cytosine residues in SEPT9 are methylated in cancerous tissue but not in normal colon tissue. Accurately assessing methylation levels for methylated DNA biomarkers, however, requires a robust positive control. Typical screening assays rely on completely methylated genomic DNA from cell line sources that fail to represent naturally occurring patterns of methylated DNA accurately.
This novel biomarker assay uses the pooled plasma of pregnant women as a positive control substrate for SEPT9 biomarker assays. Pooled plasma of pregnant women can also potentially be used as a positive control substrate for other methylated oncofetal biomarkers.
NOVEL TREATMENT FOR GALACTOSEMIA
Galactosemia is a rare, inherited condition where people cannot metabolize galactose due to mutations in GALT, GALE, and GALK1. The disorder appears in 1 in 40,000 live births and can be fatal if left untreated, but no long-term treatment exists. Galactosemia patients also experience intellectual and speech deficits, motor function loss, ataxia, and infertility.
The inventors have discovered that accumulation of Gal1-p results in a unique form of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in fibroblasts of patients with Galactosemia. The proposed invention repurposes known ER stress inhibitors, such as Salubrinal, which have been shown to reduce phosphorylation of several intracellular proteins involved in ER stress for the treatment of Galactosemia.
OCA-B PEPTIDE INHIBITORS FOR THE TREATMENT OF TYPE-1 DIABETES
Type-1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which host immune system is directed towards antigens associated with insulin generating pancreatic β-cells. Life-long insulin therapy alleviates symptoms of T1D, but treatment complications and affiliated conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, continue to affect patients’ health.
Guided by extensive target discovery and GWAS studies, along with a mouse model, a proprietary OCA-B peptide inhibitor has been developed as a treatment for T1D and Multiple Sclerosis. This approach reduces infiltrating T-cell numbers and alleviates T1D-associated elevated glucose levels without impairing T cell development, base-line function or T-cell memory function.
ON-CHIP INDUCTORLESS POWER CONVERTER
Existing on-chip systems for power conversion optimize either performance or dynamic conversion. No solution offers simultaneous high efficiency and adjustable conversion ratios. Additionally, current devices are bulky and lack sufficient power density.
The on-chip inductorless power converter utilizes film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) technology to increase power density while minimizing electromagnetic interference (EMI). The FBAR device consists of a piezoelectric material sandwiched between two electrodes and acoustically isolated from the surrounding medium. Replacing the inductor with a FBAR reduces the size of power converters. The device offers high inductance density with a high Q factor and can be fabricated easily in a CMOS compatible process. This FBAR technology promises economical production of LEDs with dynamic conversion and lower electromagnetic interference.
Clinicians frequently have patient care questions that go unanswered. Several online resources provide information to assist clinical decision making but current workflow limits their use.
OpenInfoButton is a novel, standards-based health information search tool that integrates with multiple EHR systems and allows clinicians to quickly answer clinical questions in real-time. The software uses contextual information stored within the patient’s electronic health record (EHR) and utilized keywords to anticipate questions and provide links to relevant information. This tool allows clinicians to conduct online medical knowledge resource searches easily from multiple sources. To date, the software includes almost 40 knowledge resources. OpenInfoButton has received Health Level Seven (HL7) Infobutton Standard certification, which is required for EHR certification in the United States.
OPTIMIZED p53 PEPTIDES WITH MITOCHONDRIAL TARGETING SIGNALS
p53 is a transcription factor that also stimulates apoptotic signaling through death receptors and the mitochondria. Over half of all cancer express p53 mutations and recombinant p53 is often introduced into cancer cells for treatment. Mutated p53, however, interacts with the introduced p53 rendering it ineffective at suppressing tumors.
p53 peptides with mitochondrial targeting signals (p53-MTS) can be introduced into tumor cells, which does not interact with mutant p53. The mitochondrial p53 works as a monomer with pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins at the mitochondrial outer membrane, causing a rapid apoptotic response. The p53-MTS and DNA binding domain constructs are active in cancer cells independent of their p53 status.
ORGANIC LIGHT-EMITTING DIODE (OLED) WITH RESONANT STRUCTURE
Existing light emitting devices suffer from efficiency problems, such as incomplete light extraction from active layers. This inability to direct light from the diode results in an 180˚ active range of light emission and power losses.
The OLED with Resonant Structure utilizes two mirrors to increase the radiative efficiency of OLEDs by 80-100 percent. The first mirror is a partially reflective, metallic patch grating resonator that reduces lateral propagation of radiative emissions’ diffusion. The second mirror is a transparent electrode of the OLED, which communicates with the optically active material. Together, these mirrors almost double the output power of the LED.
OSTEOGENESIS: METHOD FOR RETENTION OF MEDIA DURING BONE GRAFTING
Trauma or tumors in the craniofacial region can lead to loss of extended bone structure. Resultant defects in the skull require surgical repair and reshaping using rigid, static, and artificial implant materials. These materials often contribute to stress fracturing and cannot be reshaped as the patient grows, which leads to a high number of revision surgeries.
OsteoGenesis is a patient-specific, osteogenic scaffold that is both porous and resorbable. It includes two interlocking plates held together by screws that promote bone regrowth after maxillofacial surgery. Scans obtained using existing imaging techniques are used to print unique PGLA scaffolds that fit the precise needs of each patient. Spacers are used to optimize pore size for maximum particle retention and provide mechanical support. The device is bio-tolerable, preserves functional strength, and facilitates personalized medical treatment, which improves patient outcomes.
PAIN-FREE VENTRICULAR DEFIBRILLATION FOR ICDs
Approximately 1 million individuals in the United States are at high risk for sudden cardiac death. Sudden cardiac death is often associated with ventricular fibrillation (VF), so patients at high risk for VF are fitted with an implantable cardioverter (ICD). ICDs rapidly detect and treat abnormal rhythms. Unfortunately, while ICDs can save lives, they also reduce patients’ quality of life and psychological state.
The proposed technology delivers low energy unique pacing for pain-free defibrillation. By reducing the defibrillation energy, the system reduces heart damage and eliminates the pain and anxiety associated with defibrillation shocks. In addition, the technology can be easily incorporated into current ICDs.
PASSIVELY VARIABLE TRANSMISSION FOR PROSTHETICS AND EXOSKELETONS
There are about 185,000 lower limb amputations in the United States each year. Moving lower limb prosthetics often requires greater metabolic costs and often slows amputees’ walking gaits. Current active prosthetics, which react autonomously to changing surroundings, gait cues, and more, are unable to optimize themselves to large changes in pace: For example, a motorized device optimized for stair climbing has a high transmission ratio that is unable to move fast enough to provide assistance walking.
University of Utah researchers at the Bionic Engineering Lab have developed a passively variable transmission system, enabling passive transmission ratio fluctuation. The passively variable elements of the transmission change length and/or orientation with variations in direction and magnitude of torque and force from elements of the prosthesis.
PEDIATRIC PATIENT SUMMARY
Health Information Exchange (HIE) systems provide clinicians with medical records for patients from other clinics and hospitals. Patients with extensive medical histories can have hundreds of records, often leaving clinicians insufficient tools to decipher patient information quickly.
Pediatric Patient Summary (PPS) works with preexisting regional HIE systems to allow parents and clinicians to create detailed, succinct, and relevant summaries of a children’s medical records. PPS is particularly useful for children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN). The application allows parents of CYSHCN to annotate their children’s medical records with personalized information and possible corrections so that medical providers can deliver the best possible care.
PEPTIDES FOR CLEARING DEGRADED AND UNFOLDED COLLAGEN
Collagen is a major structure protein found in almost all human tissue. Degraded collagen is present in damaged tissues and is highly associated with many critical human diseases and injuries.
The collagen hybridizing peptide (CHP) can bind to these degraded collagens without affecting intact collagen. The proposed CHP has a high affinity to denatured collagen molecules for use in imaging, diagnosing, and treating diseases and injuries that cause collagen damage. The presence of Aza-Glycine residues from collagen mimetic peptide sequence increases stability of bonding to degraded collagen. The peptide can be paired with existing diagnostics and therapeutic agents to provide highly specific and targeted delivery of therapeutics or imaging markers to damaged collagen. Potential applications range from treating cancer to stabilizing blood clots and treating skin conditions.
PERCH: ENHANCED GENETIC VARIANT PRIORITIZATION
There are multiple tools available to identify, score, and annotate genetic variants within a genome. However, the majority of these tools are restricted to high-penetrance genes for Mendelian diseases and can only analyze certain pedigree structures.
A University of Utah researcher has developed a framework for prioritizing genetic disease variants. This framework, Polymorphism Evaluation, Ranking, and Classification for Heritable traits (PERCH), predicts the pathogenicity of genetic variants better than competing methods. PERCH uses BayesDel, BayesSeg, BayesHLR, and BayesGBA to prioritize variants or gene sets. PERCH measures the biological relevance of each gene to the disease of interest, searching for disease susceptibility genes through whole-exome, whole-genome, or gene-panel sequencing data.
PERFORATED PLATE SEISMIC DAMPERS
Intense earthquakes and other natural disasters cause significant damage, including deformation and buckling, to buildings that experience non-linear displacement. Structural dampers, which absorb high amounts of energy, prevent or reduce damage. Expenses and specialization, however, limit their use to high-cost applications.
Perforated Plate Seismic Dampers offer a novel method for efficient seismic energy absorption at a low cost. A single steel plate shaped to have four “nodes” or fuse points, stretches under seismic accelerations, focusing the shear and tension forces onto the four nodes. This unique plate formation absorbs excess energy, thereby reducing the lateral displacement and resultant damage to buildings during seismic events.
PERSONALIZED ALLELE-SPECIFIC EXPRESSION PROFILING RNA PROBE REAGENTS & ALGORITHMS
Understanding the allele-specific expression effects helps determine how inherited mutations may impact carriers and their offspring. Existing allele expression diagnostics, such as bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) probes, only work on cultured cells, which increases the time required for testing.
The proposed invention uses in situ hybridization probes to detect allele specific expression in cells and tissues. Nuclear whole transcriptome RNA sequencing is used to provide an intron retention score from samples to resolve expression of target alleles. These tools can resolve epigenetic allelic effects, genomic imprinting and random X-inactivation to monitor health and disease progression, and detect disorders by profiling RNASeq data.
PERSONALIZED CANCER DIAGNOSTICS AND PROGNOSTICS
Diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of solid tumors, such as glioblastoma (GBM) and ovarian serous cystadenocarcinoma (OV), has remained largely unchanged for decades, despite the increased availability of patient genomic data. Many tumors develop resistance to platinum-based drugs, the current first-line treatment, yet no tool exists that distinguishes between resistant and sensitive tumors prior to treatment.
This technology provides a computational assessment of cancer genomic profiles for personalized prognostics and drug companion diagnostics. Comparing patient data to proprietary signatures, the algorithm predicts patient response to chemotherapy. Predicting patient response to treatment helps guide clinician decisions and ultimately improves patient outcomes.
PLGA AND PEI BASED PARTICLES FOR DELIVERY OF MESENCHYMAL STEM CELLS
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can regenerate tissue and treat many debilitating diseases, including cardiovascular disease. Human MSC, however, requires lengthy ex vivo expansion times to prepare a sufficient amount of cells. This reduces transfectability, while increasing costs and contamination risk. MSCs also have poor survivability and short lifespans, further limiting their use. A new mechanism using poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) and poly(ethylenimine) (PEI) porous particles to deliver MSCs increases the efficiency of MSC treatment. The polymer is optimized for MSC bonding affinity, and constructs an anchoring and supporting system for MSC-loading. The particles are loaded with MSCs and injected into the body to treat damaged tissues, specifically damage from myocardial infarction.
POLYMERS FOR EFFICIENT GENE DELIVERY
Both viral and non-viral delivery systems have been used for gene therapy, but non-viral vectors present a variety of advantages, including scalability, low immune response, flexible loading capacity, and stability. Widespread adoption of non-viral gene vectors, however, has been limited by toxicity and transfection efficiency concerns. Multiple polymers for more efficient delivery of genetic material have been developed. The first is a novel arginine-conjugating bioreducible poly(amido amine) polymer that can degrade into nontoxic molecules in an intracellular environment. Mixing the polymer with PEG inhibits plasmid DNA condensation, improves biocompatibility, and enables in vivo applications. The second polymer is a poly(ethylamine) (PEI)-based gene delivery system, made through polymerization of cysteine and dendrimer branches. The polymer has a smaller molecular weight, which increases the stability of the complex and lowers cytotoxicity. Conjugating PEI to poly(cystaminebis(acrylamide)- diaminohexane) (poly(CBA-DAH)) via a disulfide bond further decreases toxicity and allows genetic material to be released easily.
PORTABLE AND EXPANDABLE PRE-GAIT BARS
Studies show that early mobility for patients in intensive and acute care units (ICU) results in fewer days on mechanical ventilation and shorter ICU and overall hospital stays. Typically, patients in these units are profoundly injured and cannot travel to rehabilitation rooms, meaning therapy has to occur at the patient’s bedside. These space constraints often delay treatment until patient health improves.
Portable and Expandable Pre-Gait Parallel Bars offer clinicians and their patients a safe, adjustable, and space-saving means of implementing early mobility therapy. The bars provide a stable frame for basic functions, such as weight shifting and stepping strategies that are essential to early mobility. The stability and design of these bars allow therapists to sit in front of the patient and assist at the foot, knee, or hips without worrying about patients falling. The device has a small form factor and is built from lightweight, industrial grade materials to ensure safety and portability. This new set of expandable parallel bars with adjustable height and width allows physical therapists to engage patients at their bedside, eliminating a barrier to early mobility.
POWER GRID CONTINUOUS-TIME SCHEDULING, PRICING, & STORAGE OPTIMIZATION
The lag between demand spikes and energy production, a common situation referred to as a ramping scarcity event, results in higher consumer prices, overburdened energy grids, and higher costs to utility companies.
U of U researchers have developed a software suite composed of multiple algorithms that generate continuous-time estimates of the most efficacious strategies for energy pricing, generation, scheduling, and storage. Continuous-time demand optimization is based on marginal pricing, flexible loads, and power generation ramping trajectories. These optimization algorithms have been created to avoid ramping scarcity events, more accurately predict consumer prices, and off-load overburdened energy grids to available energy storage devices.
PRACTICAL SMALL MOLECULE IMMUNOASSAY
Biomarker assays provide early detection and identification of disease, which enables timely delivery of individualized treatment strategies to patients. These assays also have the potential to track progression, regression, and recurrence of disease. Detection is typically achieved using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay platform, but such assays suffer from poor detection limits and a restricted dynamic range.
The small molecule immunoassay facilitates label-free analyte detection with antibodies. It utilizes two non-linear methods – enhanced second harmonic correlation spectroscopy and enhanced second harmonic imaging – for detection and identification of small molecules. Surface immobilized antibody arrays detect the small molecules, eliminating the need for a second antibody. The assay can be used for diagnostic testing, environmental screening, and drug screening.
PRESENT WEATHER IMAGER
Accurately characterizing the physical properties of atmospheric hydrometeors is essential to improve numerical models for weather forecasting and to respond to current weather conditions. Weather systems track precipitation type and intensity using lasers, shadows, and diffraction patterns, but fail to consistently identify changing precipitation states. These systems are especially unreliable with precipitation at temperatures near freezing and lack sufficient visualization of hydrometeors.
The present weather sensor utilizes high-speed imaging to accurately identify and communicate precipitation types. The sensor consists of a small camera mounted inside an outdoor security enclosure, with an LED lighting array to facilitate image processing. The sensor captures various precipitation types and fall intensities to maximize the accuracy of hydrometeor measurements, even in windy conditions. Standard meteorological measurement tools, such as thermometers and barometers, can be attached to the top of the device to increase the present weather sensor’s versatility and enhance precipitation measurements.
PRESSURE-SENSOR EMBEDDED STENT
Restenosis, the development of plaque deposition in the arteries, occurs in 20 percent of stent implanted patients. Diagnostic technologies on the market today are error prone, difficult to implant, and difficult to manufacture.
A new stent has been developed for use in angioplasty stent placement to widen arteries the same as a traditional stent. The stent can measure the pressure along its length to accurately diagnose restenosis. By measuring any drastic drop or gradual increase in pressure through a multiple-zone pressure sensor scheme, the device is able to help locate and diagnose restenosis. These measurements are transmitted wirelessly to a data retrieval device, eliminating the need for periodic interventional procedures currently used to monitor the development of restenosis.
PRO-OR: OR SCHEDULING TOOL TO IMPROVE OPERATIONS AND REDUCE COST
Hospital operating room (OR) planning is a complex task where numerous resources must be synchronized in order to achieve optimal resource utilization and cost efficiency. Many outpatient ORs use block scheduling to assign time to surgeons requiring hospitals to staff an entire surgical team of nurses, anesthesiologists, and technicians for an entire day when only a couple procedures are scheduled. This creates staffing conflicts and reduces efficiency, ultimately increasing hospital costs.
Pro-OR is a smart web-based software with easy user interface, designed to improve utilization of OR time integrating various details and factors such as time needed for a procedure and hospital goals. Embedded algorithms strip patient data from schedules to allow hospitals and surgical centers to share best practices for optimizing OR time. The software is being developed for prospective OR scheduling and staffing to offer insight into cost-containment schemes.
PROSTHESIS WITH DYNAMIC TRANSVERSE SCREWS FOR INTRAMEDULLARY STABILIZATION
Osseo-integrated humeral prosthetic implants can become dislodged from the bone when subjected to high forces, especially soon after implantation. No other percutaneous implant system has successfully addressed this issue.
The inventors have developed a shortened prosthetic implant that contains transverse slots to accept screws. The slots allow a degree of freedom for the implant to migrate toward the shoulder, but it cannot rotate inside the bone or move away from the shoulder, allowing the user to use the prosthetic to its full capability and range of motion soon after implantation. Once the implant has fully healed, an osseo-integrated porous surface bears the load.
PROTEIN-BASED PLATFORM TO GENERATE CHIMERIC ANTIGEN RECEPTOR-IMMUNE CELLS
Antigen specific T cells and Natural Killer (NK) cells generated by virus- mediated gene transfer of Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR) has drastically advanced cancer immunotherapy. However, virus-mediated redirection typically results in permanent CAR gene expression and off- tumor toxicity. The recombinant CAR fusion protein (rCAR) developed is mixed with isolated T and NK cells in vitro, resulting in temporarily activated cells ready for infusion in a matter of hours, rather than days or weeks from traditional methodologies. The rCAR technology is a promising advancement for treating solid and hematological malignancies.
PV STRING FAULT DETECTION
Ground faults and other wiring issues that compromise optimal panel performance are common, but often remain undetected posing safety and fire risks. Most methods for detecting ground faults require time-consuming voltage and current measurements, as well as visual assessment of solar panel integrity.
U of U researchers have developed a novel spread spectrum time domain reflectometry (SSTDR) method for the detection of photovoltaic (PV) string faults. This SSTDR method compares autocorrelation differences generated by the PV string before and after detection of the fault. It does not require current or voltage measurements, saves time, and prevents malfunctions caused by undetected string faults.
QUANTITATIVE MEASUREMENT OF MOUSE STRESS
Measurement of stress is imperative to psychological and mental disorder mouse model characterization, especially to determine the efficacy of drugs. Yet, conventional behavioral testing relies on indirect measures of stress that are difficult to interpret, time-intensive, and incompatible with concurrent electrophysiology, live imaging, or optogenetics.
University of Utah researchers have developed a protocol, paradigm, and apparatus to measure acute pupil dilation as a quantitative measure of mouse stress. The test is run in a sound and light isolated box, where tones are played to startle the mice. The apparatus is head-fixed, enabling concurrent high-resolution testing of brain activity.
QUANTUM DOT SIZE AND SHAPE MODIFICATION
Conventional routes for synthesizing quantum dots use a high temperature, rapid injection process that makes producing large batches of quantum dots with consistent quality a challenge. Quantum dots grow faster in hot spots within the reaction vessel and slower in the cooler portions, thus broadening the size distribution of the final product and generating undesirably broad photoluminescence emission. Combining many small batches presents its own challenges because batch to batch variations cause the emission of the combined batches to broaden significantly.
A novel process relies on a perturbed, low temperature equilibrium between quantum dot growth and dissolution. The creation of a thermodynamic equilibrium provides control over the net nanoparticle growth rate, quantum dot size, and shape. This process keeps the nanocrystal in its original solvent, allowing the nanocrystal to retain the desired characteristics of high efficiency and tunable photoluminescence emission. The process also scales up readily from small to large batch sizes without compromising quality.
RAPID qPCR TEST FOR COLON CANCER
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, causing over 50,000 deaths each year. Sessile serrate colon adenoma/polyps (SSA/Ps) cause 20 to 30 percent of colon cancers. Routine screening colonoscopies help diagnose colon cancer by detecting polyps, but overlapping features make differentiating between malignant (SSA/P) and benign hyperplastic (HP) polyps difficult. In effect, patients falsely diagnosed with hyperplastic polyps fail to undergo necessary follow-on surveillance for colon cancer.
A newly derived panel of expressed genes distinguishes between SSA/Ps and HPs, and detects which polyps produce a higher risk of colon cancer. The seven gene panel includes twenty-eight markers associated with cancerous SSA/Ps, resulting in lower detection limits and higher sensitivity. The panel also acts as a more effective colon cancer screening method by identifying colon cancer inducing genes that were discovered via RNA-seq analysis. Improved polyp classification has immediate clinical and research significance, with the potential to become a gold standard diagnostic.
Teachers face increasing demand to incorporate applied learning in lesson plans, but lack resources to provide these experiences. Research Quest is an instructional tool created by the Natural History Museum of Utah that offers inquiry-based science modules using interactive digital models. It leverages the museum’s research and collections to support development of critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills throughout K-12 education. These investigations support both learning and assessment.
Students work in groups to analyze evidence and answer questions. Videos from scientists, reference photos, and other instructional material help guide students through the modules. Research Quest provides teacher support materials, such as instructional strategies and lesson objectives, to assist with successful facilitation of the tool. Current modules target 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science teachers, with tools in development for other grades.
REVERSIBLE CROSS-LINKED POLYMERS FOR DRUG DELIVERY
Controlled-release drug delivery systems often use hydrogels as drug carriers due to their adjustable swelling capacities. Hydrogel fabrication, however, typically requires cytotoxic materials or conditions that limit their use in biological systems. Additionally, synthetic hydrogels fail in high stress application because they are unable to self-heal.
The proposed invention enables creation of self-healing, reversible, cross-linked polymers. The hydrogels are fabricated by mixing two liquid-state pre-polymer under physiologic conditions to form a gel at body temperature. In acidic conditions, the hydrogel becomes a viscous, free-flowing gel, but can return to its original form when pH is adjusted. These cross-linked hydrogels also exhibit shear thinning and viscoelastic recovery properties. The novel hydrogel has potential applications in vaginal drug delivery, tissue engineering, lysosomal drug delivery, gastric drug delivery, cell culture, and food gelation.
RON KINASE INHIBITOR FOR PREVENTING AND TREATING BONE LOSS
Over 70 percent of breast cancer patients develop bone metastasis, which causes severe pain, nerve compression, hypercalcemia, and debilitating bone fractures. Development and growth of bone metastases depend on the interactions between cells in the bone-tumor microenvironment that increase survival and proliferation of tumor cells. Current treatment options for osteolytic bone metastasis are limited to bisphosphonates and expensive RANKL-blocking antibody therapy with many adverse side effects.
A new, cost-effective treatment method utilizes a novel mechanism of action involving a RON kinase that activates macrophage-stimulating protein (MSP) which is a key driver of osteoclast activation in vivo. The pathway is independent of RANKL signaling. Inhibiting RON prevents both the development of osteolysis and the progression of existing osteolysis. Inhibiting this method also shows potential for treating bone loss due to osteoporosis.
Almost 6,000 youth aged 15 – 24 commit suicide each year in the United States. Resources exist to help these youth, but all too often the lack of anonymity or the need to place a call prevent youth from reaching out.
SafeUT allows students to connect with counselors anonymously through text or web chat. All interactions are handled by licensed clinicians based on professional standard of care. The SafeUT app can also be used to send tips to school officials regarding bullying, gang activity, drugs, alcohol, and more. All communications supported by SafeUT are completely anonymous, which increases the likelihood of reporting and allows schools time to respond to issues.
SECONDARY STIFFNESS DEVICES FOR STRUCTURAL SYSTEMS
In 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported over $300B in structural damages caused by natural disasters. Various devices exist to prevent structural damage after seismic events by absorbing load displacements. One such device, a buckling restrained brace (BRB), absorbs energy through plastic deformation and utilizes a stiff sleeve with a metal shell to prevent buckling under compressive forces. The sleeve is prone to fracturing and excessive plastic deformation can cause permanent damage to the system.
The proposed system limits displacement of steel beams during a natural disaster and reduces structural damage by adding addition stiffness to BRBs through reinforced steel sleeves. Steel compression plates attached at the joint where a steel beam connects to the ground and at the steel tube encasing mortar add stability to the system. Secondary tension straps decrease excessive deformation improving the reliability of the system.
SECRET KEY EXCHANGE FOR WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS
Secret key establishment between two entities is a fundamental requirement for private communication. The most common method for establishing a secret key is by using public key cryptography. The public key method, however, is vulnerable to security breaches, consumes significant amount of computing resources, has been relatively slow, and requires a third party authentication service.
The proposed method represents a fundamental advancement in secret key exchange for wireless communications by avoiding use of a public key. It allows for the exchange of a random secret key between two transceivers by measuring particular bio-directional properties of the channel, which cannot be read at a third location. The properties may include measurements while moving a transceiver to different locations to observe the secret key. The method takes advantage of the changing space-time wireless channel in order to generate a rich and robust key which can be shared on a wireless link without communicating the secret key.
SEISMIC BUCKLING BRACE
During intense earthquakes and other natural disasters, buildings experience significant damage, including deformation and buckling, due to non-linear displacement. Structural dampers absorb high amounts of energy and can prevent or reduce damage. One such device, a buckling restrained brace (BRB), absorbs energy through plastic deformation. However, conventional BRBs, typically concrete in a steel tube (perform well under large forces, 200,000+ pounds) are heavy and have not yet been developed for small capacity applications.
The heavy timber buckling restrained brace consists of a steel core and heavy timber casing to prevent buckling, even for small capacity applications. It can be used in buildings, bridges, and other structures to dissipate seismic energy and prevent damage from natural disasters. It improves resiliency by acting as a fuse to protect the structure.
This casing can be further fortified by adding compression screws to account for forces that run perpendicular to the grain.
SEISMIC SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE GEOFOAM BRIDGE
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 61,000 bridges in the United States are structurally deficient. Consolidation and post- construction creep settlement slow and inhibit accelerated construction of support systems for bridge structures on soft soil. Other common challenges include low bearing capacity, poor construction conditions, relocation of buried utilities, and potential settlement damage to adjacent structures and foundations.
Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Geofoam Bridge Support Systems accelerate construction of bridge support without compromising safety. EPS eliminates the need for deep foundations or ground improvement in soft ground conditions. EPS technology is lightweight and reduces, or almost eliminates, uneven settling of soil. EPS bridges are used around the world, but not currently permitted in the United States as they do not hold up under seismic conditions. The proposed system increases stability during seismic events by utilizing a steel cable system enabling EPS bridge deployment in seismic geographic areas.
SENSITIVE ASSAY FOR 5α-DIHYDROTESTOSTERONE
Circulating androgen 5a-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a major indicator of benign prostatic hyperplasia, which affects over three million men each year in the United States and can lead to prostate cancer. Additionally, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which affects 8-10 percent of women, is caused by elevated androgen concentrations. PCOS causes conditions ranging from type 2 diabetes to obesity and heart disease. Immunoassays for testosterone and other androgens, however, are often inaccurate due to analytical interference and inaccurate results at low concentrations.
A simple, high-throughput assay uses specific derivitizing agents to improve detection of keto-steroids, such as DHT. This method has enhanced ionization efficiency and can detect analytes at low concentration levels.
SEROLOGIC ASSAYS TO DIRECT PERSONALIZED DEMYELINATING DISEASE TREATMENT
There are over 2 million people around the world who suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS). It can take a protracted period to identify the disease, and while there are more treatments to address MS than there were a decade ago, they often have serious side effects and none of the current treatments stop the disease.
University of Utah researchers have identified a series of bacteria whose presence is highly associated with demyelinating diseases, specifically MS. These bacteria have been used to create a set of microbial reagents for use in serologic assays to personalize antimicrobial treatment of MS. Treating MS with specific antibiotics to halt or prevent disease would significantly improve patient outcomes by treating the root cause with less serious side effects.
SINGLE-STEP ANTI-TNF DRUG MONTIORING
Anti-TNF (tumor necrosis factor) therapeutics are top-grossing drugs that are a major treatment advancement for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease. Patient blood levels of TNF blockers need routine monitoring to ensure effective therapeutic response and patient safety. The current clinical test for TNF blockers is expensive and time-consuming, requiring cell culturing.
University of Utah researchers have developed an immunoassay platform with customized antibody detection reagents that enables one-step anti-TNF drug monitoring. The immunoassay provides a fluorimetric readout in less than an hour.
SLEEP APNEA PATIENT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is almost 100 percent effective in treating sleep apnea, which affects over 18 million Americans. Almost half of sleep apnea patients, however, abandon CPAP before treatment is complete. Lack of CPAP compliance has led insurance companies to require compliance data for reimbursement.
The proposed software plugin for CPAP devices can provide compliance data, as well as overall information on the sleep apnea population. The software can facilitate targeted population management for sleep centers by providing reminders regarding clinic visits, CPAP usage statistics, and the ability to categorize patients based on insurance provider. Data can be available to clinicians immediately for virtual consultations, which would help sleep center staff manage patients in a more timely and cost effective manner.
SMALL MOLECULE DETECTION ASSAY IN BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
The demand to perform rapid and selective testing for small molecules in biological samples using inexpensive instrumentation is increasing. For example, current drug testing methods rely on antibody-based assays, which can produce false-positive results, requiring additional expensive mass spectrometry-based testing to establish if the illegal substance is present.
A University of Utah inventor developed a novel detection platform based on nucleic acid aptamers capable of selectively detecting small molecules such as drugs, toxins, or metabolites in complex biological systems. The key aspect of the platform is split aptamer ligation technology, which generates an aptamer-based, enzyme-linked detection system that is superior to existing antibody-based assays, as it allows for rapid and inexpensive detection at low concentrations. The new platform has the potential to distinguish between structurally similar analytes such as morphine and codeine. In addition, it will find broad application in the fields of forensics, medical diagnostics, and environmental research.
SOL-GEL DEPOSITION PROCESS
Sol-gel deposition is a common fabrication method used to create solids from small molecules. Yet, sol-gel deposition processes have limited commercial applications due to batch-to-batch inconsistencies and the inability to produce uniform thin-film materials.
University of Utah researchers have developed a three step process for sol-gel fabrication that involves deposition from liquid precursor solutions, dehydration in flowing and heated air, and a final heat treatment at 250- 500˚C. A unique shock-cooling procedure suppresses crack formations during the cool-down process and ensures the deposition of high-quality thin-films. This enables large area thin-film deposition. The process can be repeated multiple times with alternating oxide compounds, allowing for multi-layer films. Additionally, the deposition method can be applied to many substrates and shapes without sacrificing sample quality.
SOLID POLYMER LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES
Conventional lithium-ion batteries provide satisfactory performance, but using liquid electrolyte creates the potential for solvent leakage and flammability hazard which has created safety and reliability concerns. Use of a solid polymer electrolyte would improve safety, but solid electrolytes often do not meet performance requirements due to low ionic conductivity at lower temperature.
These new Lithium-ion batteries utilize high performance nanocomposite solid polymer electrolytes (SPE) to improve safety and reliability. This new solid polymer electrolyte integrates low cost nanocomposite additives to allow high ionic conductivity at low temperatures, increased stability, and is pliable & moldable. Very positive test results have been obtained with the new SPE for use in lithium-sulfur, lithium-silicon, and lithium iron phosphate batteries. The new batteries can be used for energy storage, electric vehicles, portable electronics devices, sensors, and other applications.
SOLID-TO-LIQUID CORE SHELL STRUCTURE FOR IMPLANTABLE ELECTRONICS
Utah electrode arrays have rigid bases that damage brain tissue following insertion. Yet, flexible arrays developed to reduce tissue damage are often difficult to handle and properly insert, often requiring larger shuttles to facilitate insertion. The use of these shuttles can cause more tissue trauma than the smaller, rigid electrode arrays the flexible arrays are designed to replace.
A University of Utah researcher has developed an electrode wire made of gallium and surrounded by a polymer sheath that is rigid upon insertion and softens once in the body, facilitating insertion without a large shuttle. Additionally, once the gallium liquefies at body temperature, the electrodes will likely inflict less damage to neural tissues, due to their flexibility.
SPELL & DEEPLOG
System logs record system states at critical points to help debug failures and promote system stability. Analyzing system logs to detect irregularities establishes more secure and trustworthy systems. Typical log parsing software provides offline, batch processing of raw files, but many applications require constant monitoring not provided by offline methods.
Spell, an online streaming method, parses system event logs to dynamically extract log patterns and maintain a set of discovered message types. DeepLog utilizes Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) to model a system log as a natural language sequence that automatically learns log patterns. DeepLog detects anomalies when log patterns deviate from the model trained from log data under normal execution. When an anomaly is detected, users can diagnose and perform root cause analysis immediately, thereby increasing system security.
STAPLED PEPTIDE THERAPEUTIC FOR NON-DRUGGABLE TARGETS
Existing therapeutic platforms and drug arsenals utilize small molecules and large antibody proteins, addressing only 20 percent of the druggable market. The chemical space required for inhibition of protein-protein interactions is considered “undruggable” and remains underexplored. Undesirable properties of peptides such as instability, lack of cell/ tissue penetration, and immunogenicity of synthetics compound the problem and make it unsuitable for use in humans.
The new method is a proprietary facile and efficient synthetic platform method to generate high yield stapled peptides involving macrocyclization and a two-component thiol-ene based reaction.
STAPLED, MUTANT 3 CELL PENETRATING PEPTIDE FOR BCR-ABL INHIBITION
Each year, over 8,000 cases of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) are diagnosed in the United States. Current first-line treatment utilizes tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that demonstrate high potency against CML. This treatment is limited, however, by mutations in Bcr-Abl (a gene fusion found in the majority of patients with CML) that confer resistance.
A novel, stapled, mutant three-cell penetrating peptide for Bcr-Abl inhibition prevents the oncogenic function of Bcr-Abl without triggering resistance-causing mutations. The peptide inhibitor consists of a modified Bcr coil that preferentially interacts with Bcr-Abl and prevents dimerization. The coil has a leukemia specific cell penetrating petptide and a hydrocarbon staple to ensure the peptide will only bind to and inhibit Bcr-Abl cancer cells. This causes cancer cell death while leaving non-cancer cells healthy and unaffected. The smaller peptide is also easier to deliver and demonstrates increased cell permeability.
STAUFEN-1 TARGETING THERAPEUTIC FOR TREATMENT OF FATAL NEURODEGNERATIVE DISEASES
Neurodegenerative diseases represent an ever-increasing societal and economic burden with World Health Organization estimates indicating that they will replace cancer as the 2nd leading cause of death by 2040.
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2) is a part of a family of progressive, often fatal neurodegenerative diseases with no known treatments or cures. Dominantly-acting mutations lead to expansion of a polyQ domain in the ataxin-2 (ATXN2) protein. Assembly of RNA-binding protein Staufen-1 (STAU1) with mutant ATXN2 in stable inclusions is causative, resulting in aberrant RNA processing in SCA2 and other neuronal diseases such as ALS. The proposed technology identifies STAU1 as an interventional target with STAU1 antisense therapeutic alleviating the severity of the disease in a mouse model of SCA2.
SYMPTOM ASSESSMENT APPLICATIONS FOR CANCER PATIENTS
Patients with cancer often have difficulty verbalizing symptoms, which can lead to unaddressed pain. Use of adult tools for younger patients has resulted in a communication gap between patients and providers.
The proposed apps capture the complexity of patient symptoms in a way not currently possible. The first app allows patients to choose from over 30 symptoms, identifying their most significant symptoms and mapping other symptoms in relation to them. This symptom-recording style also provides clinicians new ways to illustrate patient symptoms, thus facilitating effective communication between elementary-aged cancer patients and their providers. In the second app, children use drawing and coloring to express their symptoms. The app integrates various daily activities for health and wellness promotion in addition to symptom reporting. This app could be developed for use by young patients with other chronic illnesses and both apps could be used for a wide range of patient ages.
SymptomCare uses patient reported outcomes to monitor patient symptoms resulting from chemotherapy at home. Users can report the presence and severity of symptoms using push button telephones. The system presents patients with a series of questions designed to determine patient condition and family wellbeing. Based on patient reported symptoms, the system generates suggestions in real time to help alleviate patient pain and discomfort. It automatically sends a warning alert to the care team when symptom severity reaches a predetermined threshold, which prompts the team to make direct contact with the patient. This enables care providers to improve the patient experience and outcomes by tracking patient symptoms outside of the clinic or hospital and responding with care suggestions. By providing updates on patient symptoms in real time, the system also functions as a case management portal for clinicians.
SYSTEM FOR EVALUATING AND ASSESSING ABNORMAL CARDIAC CONDUCTION
Cardiac arrhythmias and abnormal heart conduction are common, with over 600,000 sudden cardiac deaths per year in the United States. Present methods for atrial assessment and atrial fibrillation ablation require expensive, high-risk, time-intensive procedures in hospital operating rooms and experimental MRI imaging techniques. Related technology for assessing ventricular conduction abnormalities is inexpensive and low-risk, but addresses only one part of ventricular abnormality.
In order to simplify and enhance the diagnosis of abnormal heart conduction, a novel approach has been created to quantify the number and character of P waves or QRS generated by the heart. This approach assesses both P and QRS signals during a 5-15 minute, continuous, high-resolution ECG recording to determine patient risk for cardiac arrhythmia.
TARGETED IMMUNE CELL DEPLETION FOR TREATING AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS
Current treatment regimens for autoimmune diseases indiscriminately target healthy and diseased immune cells, causing patient immunodeficiency. In disorders like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, there is systemic depletion of healthy cells and tissues due to the failure of regulatory checkpoints in the immune system, like the PD-1 receptor.
University of Utah researchers have developed a unique approach to specifically deplete pathogenic autoreactive immune cells that cause organ destruction. This approach uses a targeted therapeutic with a PD-1-receptor-targeting moiety conjugated to a unique exotoxin. The exotoxin enters only offending autoimmune cells to begin depletion, without targeting or affecting healthy cells. This approach has been shown to limit healthy cell exposure to the toxin and reduce autoimmune deficiency in mouse models for type 1 diabetes and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.
TEST FOR DIAGNOSIS OF VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of the central nervous system. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes a wide range of hematologic and neuropsychiatric disorders that can be reversed when treated early. Roughly 50 percent of patients, however, go undiagnosed because current tests rely on serum measurements that fail to identify increased methylmalonic acid levels in early disease states.
A new test increases the sensitivity of methylmalonic testing to identify vitamin B12 deficiency earlier. The test uses mass spectrometry and atmospheric pressure ionization to identify presence and quantity of dicarboxylic acids. This method also enables differentiation between isobaric dicarboxylic acids, such as methylmalonic acid and succinic acid. The diagnostic test can be performed using biological samples from blood, saliva, or urine.
THERMOELECTRIC ENERGY HARVESTER
Thermoelectric power generators harvest energy from waste or natural heat without producing any direct emissions of greenhouse gases. As one of the most promising clean energy conversion technologies, thermoelectric materials transform temperature gradients into electrical power without any moving parts. Existing thermoelectric materials are limited by toxicity at high temperatures and low conversion efficiency.
This new thermoelectric energy harvester is a novel oxide-based thermoelectric material that exhibits high electrical and thermal conductivity for increased performance. The material has a “cool” side and a “heated” side that uses the temperature differential to generate electrical power. Possible uses in automobiles, power plants, generators, or anything with heat.
THIN-FILM POLYMER MICRO-ELECTROCORTICOGRAPHY ARRAY
Electrocorticography (ECoG) is increasingly important for brain-machine interfaces, as well as long-term neural circuitry and synchronization research. ECoGs measure electrical potentials on the surface of the cerebral cortex, making ECoG well-suited for epilepsy monitoring and controlling cursory movement of neuroprosthetics. However, hemorrhage, infection, and infarction sometimes complicate conventional ECoG recordings.
University of Utah researchers have developed a biocompatible, small, flexible, thin-film polymer micro-electrocorticography array. The array is built with perforated Parylene-C, a biocompatible and highly flexible material that allows diffusion. This design facilitates the conformation of the array to the cortex surface profile and reduces the risk of immune system response.
Complications of tonsillectomies, such as tonsillectomy hemorrhage, occur in approximately five percent of patients each year. Tonsillectomy hemorrhage and other throat conditions, such as strep throat and peritonsillar abscess, can be hard to visualize, especially in patients with long soft palates or small pharynxes.
TonsilView enables clear visualization of the oropharynx and tonsils joint with a bite block, tongue depressor, and cheek/lip retractor. The bite guard facilitates an unobstructed view of the tonsils, while the tongue depressor and retractor expose additional soft tissues of the oropharynx for enhanced diagnosis and treatment.
TOTAL IV ANESTHESIA DRIP CHAMBER ALARM
There is currently no way to measure the drip rate of an IV to ensure an uninterrupted flow of IV-administered anesthetic. Yet, if anesthetic flow is interrupted during total IV anesthesia, then the patient may begin to wake before the anesthesiologist intends.
A University of Utah researcher has developed a scissor-like device which would clamp on to the drip chamber of an IV to alert anesthesiologists if flow is interrupted. A beam emitter and sensor system is used to measure the drip by monitoring when the beam is broken by the drops of fluid. A timer is used to set the maximum time interval between drips and an audible alarm is sounded if the drop sequence is outside the predetermined set duration.
TRANSLATION-TARGETED RNA INHIBITORS WITH ANTI-FLAVIVIRAL AND ANTI-CANCER PROPERTIES
There is no FDA-approved vaccine for either Zika or dengue virus. Additionally, Dengvaxia, which is under FDA priority review, has been linked to a more severe form of dengue fever in some patients not previously infected by dengue.
A University of Utah researcher has developed a class of pan-viral small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of Flaviviruses. These molecules offer a novel mechanism of action and could potentially be active against a very broad group of RNA viruses based on in vitro testing.
The MYC oncogene is deregulated in >50% of human cancers, and MYC deregulation is central to oncogenic processes. MYC deregulation is frequently associated with poor prognosis and patient survival rates. Although MYC inhibition is recognized as a powerful approach for the treatment of many types of cancers, direct targeting of MYC has been a challenge for decades owing to its “undruggable” protein structure.
The RNA inhibitors have demonstrated anti-cancer activity in several oncology cell lines. Potent synergistic activity with mTOR inhibitors and with cisplatin has been demonstrated in cancer cell lines, suggesting that combination therapies are possible for development.
TRANSLATIONAL & ROTATIONAL ARROW CUES FOR IMAGE-GUIDED SURGERIES
Image-guided surgeries use two-dimensional, tri-planar displays that simultaneously show three distinct orthogonal viewpoints of the surgical field. However, visual interpretation of these 2D, tri-planar displays requires significant practice. The surgical tools’ interaction with the display is unintuitive and unreflective of the surgeon’s perspective.
University of Utah researchers have developed a surgical tool tracker and software that facilitates image-guided surgery by presenting a three-dimensional view of the surgical target from a single viewpoint. The display guides the surgeon to the surgical target using translational and rotational arrow cues (TRAC). The TRAC system shows a single arrow to the surgeon at a time, to enable accurate placement of surgical tools. When the surgeon reaches the desired target, the object appears green, signaling correct placement of surgical tools. TRAC navigation can be integrated into existing image-guided or robotic surgical procedure monitors.
TRP-SWITCH: LIGAND ENABLING ON/OFF TRPA1 CONTROL
Current optogenetics and chemo-optogenetics suffer from a variety of limitations including low unitary conductance (which requires oversaturation and can result in off-site effects, including cytotoxicity), the need to covalently modify the target channel, and/or the inability to control both on and off switching. These limitations produce uncertainty when trying to dissect complex biological systems.
This work identifies “TRPswitch” as a photoswitchable, nonelectrophilic ligand scaffold for the transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) channel. TRPswitch A and B are two photoswitchable small molecules that enable optical control of currents in Trpa1b expressing cells in vivo. The TRPswitches specifically enable repeatable optical control of both neuronal and non-neuronal cells. Importantly, the TRPswitches allow for sustained channel activation after only a brief pulse of violet light illumination, but the channel can also be rapidly deactivated with green light illumination. As only short pulses of light are required to control the activity of the TRPA1 channel, cells subjected to the TRPA1/TRPswitch chemo-optogenetic system are less prone to photo-toxicity. Specifically, this new tool will also be beneficial in applications where a large depolarization current is needed, such as in large primary motor neurons, or when sustained channel activation is desirable.
TWO-ZONE FLOW-THROUGH PCR USING THIN FILMS
PCR is an inexpensive and robust technique for amplifying specific segments of DNA for gene analysis, DNA sequencing, DNA profiling, and diagnostic tests. The speed at which PCR can be performed depends on the time required to cycle through temperature dependent steps.
A novel PCR machine that combines a microfluidic card and simple thermal cycler performs PCR at extreme speeds by reducing cycling time to less than a second. Copper blocks surround the microfluidic consumable card to improve heat transfer and temperature control. This interaction reduces overall PCR time by enabling temperature equilibration in under 0.3 seconds. The device is more affordable than existing solutions and portable, facilitating use in point-of-care settings.
ULTRA-LOW POWER VOLTAGE REFERENCE & TEMPERATURE SENSOR
The emergence of internet-of-things technology has led to an increasing demand for efficient stable power supplies, with low sensitivity to temperature and supply quality.
University of Utah researchers have created an ultra-low power, highly stable voltage reference for 65nm CMOS circuits with lower PVT sensitivity. The temperature sensor is built on the low-power voltage reference design and provides a digital friendly and accurate output from -20 to +80°C with a max error of +/-.23°C while consuming only 11nW.
ULTRASOUND-DRIVEN VESTIBULAR-EVOKED MYOGENIC DIAGNOSTIC TEST
The vestibular system is vital part of a person’s ability to balance. Almost 69 million Americans have experienced vestibular dysfunction. An additional 8 million American adults report a chronic problem with balance, while 2.5 million report a chronic problem with dizziness. Diagnosing vestibular dysfunction requires a series of expensive and invasive tests, such as vestibular evoked myogenic testing. These tests are often inaccurate and can cause patient discomfort.
The ultrasound driven vestibular-evoked myogenic diagnostic test uses focused ultrasound and infrared pulses to stimulate vestibular organs. These thermal pulses activate vestibular-evoked myogenic potentials in the neck and ocular muscles. The myogenic potentials are averaged over time to generate a waveform that represents vestibular organ function. The magnitude and latency of the stimulus-response is then used to diagnosis vestibular otolith function.
Regular, structured practice is essential to learning an instrument, yet children and youth often fail to practice consistently.
UPlay utilizes game- like lesson plans with stories that teach concepts and encourage practice to help motivate children to practice regularly. UPlay contains over fifty online lessons geared toward children ages 6 to 10. Each lesson includes five segments: a short story, a demonstration, an interactive game, piano pieces, and a quiz. The program uses music instrument digital interface (MIDI), which allows students to link their keyboard with the website and receive immediate feedback. UPlay also tracks progress and practice patterns to help instructors personalize lesson plans.
URINARY CONTROL DEVICE
Men who have received therapy for prostate cancer often experience complications such as urinary obstruction or incontinence. Obstruction is often treated by using a spanner, which does not address incontinence and incontinence is treated with adult diapers, which does not address obstruction.
A University of Utah team has constructed a shortened urinary catheter that stays near the bladder that treats incontinence without obstructing the urethra. A unique, one-way pressure valve is operated by squeezing the penis, offering independent bladder control. The catheter, unlike Foley catheters, is entirely contained within the penis. This catheter can be removed monthly or bi-monthly in a clinic.
UTAH SLANTED ELECTRODE ARRAY PUDENDAL NERVE STIMULATOR
Bladder dysfunction affects 17 million Americans and is particularly common in patients with spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis. Current treatments, while effective, have major side effects including infection, urethral damage, and loss of peripheral sensation.
The pudendal nerve stimulator treats bladder dysfunction by enabling push-button urination control. The nerve stimulator consists of a Utah Slanted Electrode Array implanted into the pudendal nerve that selectively contracts and relaxes the two major muscle groups associated with urination. A remote device signals the array to contract the bladder muscle, while restricting the urethral sphincter to facilitate urination. The device can be inserted using minimally-invasive surgery and eliminates the need for catheterization and the major side effects associated with current bladder dysfunction treatments.
VALUE DRIVEN OUTCOMES (VDO)
Hospitals have started to shift away from traditional revenue cycles to more comprehensive, quality-driven cost accounting. Existing accounting tools for healthcare organizations, however, do not support cost accounting at the patient-level.
Value Driven Outcomes (VDO) provides comprehensive software for understanding and visualizing health care costs. VDO takes a new approach to estimate the cost of care by allocating operational costs, such as labor and supplies, to individual patient encounters. The software includes technical infrastructure for implementing a cost model and uses a visualization layer to facilitate the identification of opportunities for potential value improvement. VDO helps hospitals function more efficiently by increasing access to accurate, segmented cost information and generating web-based reports and dashboards that increase visibility for hospital costs.
VIRTUAL ELECTRODES FOR HIGH-DENSITY ELECTRODE ARRAYS
Neurostimulators are used to stimulate human tissue in many applications, including retinal prostheses and neurological disease treatments. Neurostimulators often use more than one electrode to improve the stimulation resolution and efficacy of the array. Regular electrodes, however, present zones of large current density such that increasing the number of electrodes in one array causes tissue damage.
Virtual electrodes enhance stimulation resolution without causing tissue damage by creating large current density zones away from the electrodes. A virtual electrode is placed between two regular electrodes to enhance the signal quality and increase targeting capabilities. By routing the current from each regular electrode, the array can stimulate tissue not directly under the electrodes. This increases stimulation resolution without overstimulating one specific area.
There are over 185,000 lower limb amputations in the United States annually. A major obstacle for many new amputees is early ambulation, as surgical wounds delay prosthetic use for a minimum of ten days.
VirtualLimb enables amputees and their families to experience a virtual limb through augmented and virtual reality. The system serves three functions: speeds rehabilitation following surgery, facilitates physical therapy, and creates empathy among non-amputees. VirtualLimb is collaborative, allowing clinicians to drop objects into the amputee’s virtual reality for tailored interactions. The amputees’ movements are tracked via motion bands on their lost limbs, mimicking the use of a prosthetic and beginning essential early post-surgical rehab.
VIRUS-LIKE NANOCARRIER FOR CELL-SPECIFIC LARGE CARGO DELIVERY
University of Utah researchers have created a vector system in which capsids from non-enveloped viruses are modified to produce quasi-enveloped viruses. The system is engineered to direct self-release within the vesicle and contains three modular activities: (1) membrane binding, (2) self-assembly, and (3) ability to recruit ESCRT machinery to catalyze membrane fission for release from the cell. Vesicles with internal capsids do not display any antigenic viral properties and are inaccessible to neutralizing antibodies. Specific receptor ligands can be included for cell-specific targeting. Additionally, different genetic elements could be split among multiple capsids, increasing the overall drug payload and overcoming size limitations of enveloped viruses.
WASTE HEAT THERMAL BATTERY
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems control climates in buildings and vehicles. Most systems utilize compression and expansion of a cycled refrigerant, which consumes high amounts of energy. Thermal energy storage shows promise for harnessing and utilizing waste heat, but most thermal energy storage systems utilize intermetallic alloys, which come with high costs and low energy density.
The waste heat thermal battery can store and release energy in a controlled fashion to increase efficiency. The battery is charged and discharged cyclically to supply heating or cooling from stored thermochemical energy. It uses low cost ammonia and magnesium chloride to provide high heating and cooling power. The battery gathers energy from waste or ambient heat, which allows it to be powered by sources such as truck engines, solar heat, and off-peak industrial waste heat. Its characteristics facilitate use in HVAC systems for electric vehicles and long haul trucks, energy storage systems, stationary HVAC, and waste heat recovery systems.
β-CATENIN/T-CELL FACTOR (TCF) FOR TARGETING CANCER AND IMMUNE TOLERANCE
Irregular activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway leads to initiation and progression of many cancers, such as colorectal cancer, leukemia, and multiple myeloma. Cancer stem cells, which are resistant to conventional therapies, are also controlled by Wnt signaling. Recent studies indicate Wnt/β-catenin signaling provides therapeutic benefits as a molecular switch between opposing immune functions to treat autoimmune diseases, cancer, and infectious diseases.
The proposed technology describes design and synthesis of micro-molar inhibitors of β-catenin/Tcf inhibitors with outstanding selectivity, suitable for additional drug development.