Spring 2008, Issue 8

A Sample of Tufts Start-Ups

The Office for Technology Licensing and Industry Collaboration (OTL&IC) helped launch the following start-up companies in 2007:

IGAN Biosciences was formed by Andrew Plaut and Jiazhou Qiu of Tufts Medical Center’s Division of Gastroenterology (along with other colleagues in Boston) to commercialize treatments they had developed for IgA nephropathy. This disease is associated with accumulation in the kidney of IgA, a type of antibody that circulates in the blood. IgA accumulation injures the kidney, and IgA nephropathy is a leading cause of kidney failure worldwide. IGAN Biosciences is developing a treatment based on a bacterial enzyme (discovered by Dr. Plaut) that breaks down the accumulated IgA so that it can be cleared from the kidney. The company is also working on techniques to prevent IgA from accumulating in the first place.

Lakewood Pharmaceuticals focuses on infectious disease. This start-up was formed around a human monoclonal antibody treatment developed in the laboratory of Saul Tzipori, Division of Infectious Diseases, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, for hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), an acute kidney failure which can be fatal. HUS results from consumption of animal products or water contaminated with toxigenic strains of E. coli. The antibody treatment is scheduled to begin Phase I clinical trials in 2008.

Quanterix was formed to develop a platform technology from the laboratory of David Walt of the Tufts University Department of Chemistry. Quanterix is developing a new system for molecular analysis that will be more sensitive and precise than technologies in current use. The basic concept is to partition a dilute liquid sample into tens of thousands of individual microreactors such that each reaction volume is likely to have either zero or one molecule of the target analyte. The quantity of sample can then be calculated based on the fraction of microreactors that generate a reaction product, indicating that the target analyte is present. The technology has multiple potential applications, including ultrasensitive protein detection, enzymatic drug screening assays, functional analysis of single cells, and novel in vitro diagnostics.

Tempo Control Technologies (TCT) was formed to commercialize software developed by Tufts undergraduate engineering students Joseph Cerra and Michael Visconti (E’05). The software synchronizes the tempo of music on an MP3 player to the pace of a user’s aerobic exercise, without altering the pitch of the music. Although the inventors were not required to assign their rights to Tufts because the work was not done under circumstances that fall under the University’s policy on intellectual property, Cerra and Visconti decided to assign ownership to Tufts to take advantage of the University’s services. The OTL&IC quickly began seeking patent protection for the invention and marketing the technology. UTEK, an opportunities search firm, learned of the technology from Tufts and created TCT to license and develop it.

For more information on Tufts technologies, please go to http://techtransfer.tufts.edu/.



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