Poloxamer-188 (P-188) is a generic, off-the-shelf pharmaceutical compound that has been approved by the FDA as an agent to decrease human blood viscosity prior to transfusions. A research team at the University of Chicago discovered that P-188 also has the unique ability to heal cell membranes: it can seal and repair holes in membranes which, if left untreated, typically lead to cell death. Once the membrane is stabilized, the cell can begin its natural self-healing process. During this healing process, the repaired cells excrete P-188, which is safely removed from the body through the kidneys.
The Maroon Biotech E-Team created a new class of drugs based on the molecular structure of P-188. These new co-polymers could be used to treat human cellular injuries resulting from central nervous system (CNS) injury, heart attack, and stroke.
Over 400,000 premature births occur each year in the US, accounting for over $6 billion in annual health care spending. Statistics suggest that the number of premature births is rising, despite advances in prenatal care. Premature birth is associated with higher risk of maternal and infant death, and debilitating infant illnesses such as cerebral palsy, autism, mental retardation, and vision and hearing impairments. Currently, several tools on the market predict pre-term delivery, however the available diagnostic methods do not function early enough to safely and consistently administer labor-suppressing drugs.
This E-Team developed a cervical bioimpedance system that predicts the onset of birth early enough to safely administer preventative drugs. The system detects very subtle changes in cervical tissue composition, which indicate when the cervix is readying for childbirth. The system is composed of an electrode probe with a disposable sterile plastic tip containing the circuitry necessary to measure bioimpedance.
Update: the team has successfully licensed the technology (details not available).
This E-Team developed a new sensor technology, the Non-contacting Resistance Displacement Transducer (NRDT). Used primarily in the metalworking, military/aerospace, and automotive markets, displacement sensors allow accurate control of everything from robotic arms to manufacturing assembly lines. The dominant sensor on the market today is the Linear Variable Displacement Transducer (LVDT), which, while precise and robust, is expensive due to its complex structure. While researching an unrelated problem, this E-Team came up with the NRDT, a device that offers far better performance than LVDTs at a fraction of the cost. NRDT's advantage lies in its simple design, allowing the device to get less expensive as it gets smaller, while still delivering optimal performance. LVDTs, on the other hand, become more expensive as they get smaller.
Update: After winning first place in the "Most Fundable" category of the 2005 Georgia Tech Business Plan Competition, the NRDT team took its product to market. They have formed a company, Sentrinsic (intrinsic sensing), have two patents pending, have received over $150k in funding, and made their first sale in April 2006.