2016 Rocky Mountain Biotechnology Symposium

2016 Rocky Mountain Biotechnology Symposium

By Dmitry Baranov

It  is inevitable and perhaps vital for the prosperity of any business for R&D executives at large or small corporations, start-ups and even sales departments in a local firm to integrate with academia on some level. This year, a number of CEOs teamed up with academia to brainstorm innovative ideas in Denver, Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Biotechnology Symposium. The biotechnology symposium is an annual networking event, where postdocs, grad students, local CEOs, and investors rub shoulders with each other and listen to presentations given by established local companies as well as emerging ones.

Here are some of the ideas that came from synthesizing research into technology.

A Novel Method For Preserving Vaccines:

The first example of research-into-technology transformations is by Nanoly Biosciences Inc. and it consists of turning hydrophilic photodegradable polymers into a hydrogel matrix used as a durable storage facility for vaccines. The hydrogel preserves a vaccine’s potency over a wide temperature range in the conditions where continuous refrigeration of aqueous solutions (the current way of handling vaccines, so called “cold chain”) is unavailable. The hydrogel falls apart upon shining 400 nm or shorter light on it (blue laser pointer will do) and releases the vaccine into a solution ready for administering. A 2009 Science paper reporting the novel application of photocleavable ortho-nitrobenzyl ether moiety in PEG-based hydrogels outlined grounds for this promising technology.

A Needleless Blood Test:

A second example of research-into-technology transformations is a new tool for non-invasive medical diagnostics, such as a blood test. It was described by Corvectra Inc. The tool is a compact laser spectrometer designed using principles of hyperspectral imaging (technique widely used in aerial and aerospace imaging, including outer space exploration) which can needlelessly test arterial or venal blood for electrolytes.

An Aerosol Concentrator:

The last example we will talk about here is a “reverse” aerosol apparatus. Aerosol Devices Inc. presented a unique aerosol concentrator – a device which softly captures air-suspended particles (≥ 5 nm in size) using a novel water-based condensation technique and produces concentrated samples of the particulates from air. Given how dilute things floating in the air are, analyzing them typically requires elaborate equipment. The aerosol concentrator bypasses the dilution challenge and permits obtaining a concentrated sample suitable for analysis with common analytical methods.

 R&D and Academia:

Overall, attending this biotechnology symposium is a valuable experience. It is thought-provoking and, potentially, a venture-boosting experience. I would encourage the R&D department of any company to interact more with academia and take advantage of all the brilliant minds out there, just waiting to be discovered!

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

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